Sunday, July 27, 2008

So Tired, but So Happy

Master Blackhead and I have spent all day today cleaning our new house. There were parts so gross that double gloves and strong cleaners were called in to save the day. The place is shaping up so well that a vendor who stopped by today didn't realize that we bought a foreclosure until he went to the basement (we hadn't touched it then yet). The vendor even said that our house was the cleanest and most well-maintained foreclosure he's seen. I promptly told him it was because I spent the last week cleaning it.

All this work would usually seem absolutely laborious and painful, but somehow it isn't this time. I think it's because we love this house and I truly believe that this house loves us back. I know it sounds so absolutely silly, but I really do believe that. Case in point: after vacuuming the entire above ground square footage, the house actually sighed with relief. I kid you not. The house went, "ahhhhhhhhhh." Hasn't made the noise since, and no I didn't have the A/C running. Maybe I'm projecting my own feelings onto the house, or maybe the house just likes us. I prefer the latter theory.

Anyway, I'm bushed. Unlike Master Blackhead, I've put in two 14-hour days in a row. Goodnight.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You Want Him in Your Corner

We just closed on our house. Finally. After all the crap the seller's bank put us through, we have the house and couldn't be happier. This would not have been possible if we had just any Realtor, we needed the best and got the best. If you live in Minnesota and need a Realtor, call Gary Kreb.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Freeze: We've Got You Surrounded

Knitter's are extremely talented individuals (if I do say so myself), but the ladies in my knitting group put all others to shame. It's often said that Cid, Designer Extraordinaire, has more talent in her pinky than most people have in their whole bodies. (Let's not even talk about her extremely talented pinky toe.) Remember this particularly lovely Cid creation:

Yeah, these ladies can strut their collective creative crafty joojoo better than anyone else. My birthday gifts offer a glimpse into their immense creativity and dedication to their crafts. As you can see they don't just knit.

JennyK: Handspun yarn. This merino/silk blend is beautiful and perfect in every way.

MamaSara: An asymmetrical rose quartz necklace with turtles. Lovely.

ZeldaBeast: Whimsical stitch markers to honor the Little Blackheads. Very thoughtful (especially since I'm the one always bumming stitch markers.)

Ttink: Elegant and gracious, just like her. The colors are perfect, and the kitty bead is just too sweet.

Maybe I've just always been lucky to be surrounded by strong and creative women. My mom is fabulousness personified. Even my mom's cat, Ariel, is a queen amongst cats. My friends are all smart and savvy. Just check out how much thought and love went into my birthday gift from SisterB. Handpainted to capture some of the most important aspects of my life. (I added the ugly blue lines to protect the innocent and not so innocent.)

SisterB: Cats, friends, love, and knitting. Perfect.

It's daunting that so many people you know have amazing skill and focus. It's hard for me not to freeze up in wonderment at their seamless grace with everyday things great and small. I'm lucky to be surrounded by these women. I hope you feel the same way about the women in your life.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Priority Hex

As I was wrapping the LGJ Purse and getting it ready send, our resident box inspector once again tested the structural integrity of the box. Apparently, there was some drama, and went down somewhat like this.

Hex: Something isn't right with this box
Jynx: That's because they're mailing you to Timbuktu in it. Haha!

Hex: They can't do that! Who else will inspect all the boxes.
Jynx: Yeah like you do a good job of that. You were licking on the job. See, I have proof.

Hex: Oh.

Hex: Mmmm... let's keep this between us. The Big Blackheads don't need to know.

Other than that, we've had a great weekend. Using the Museum Passes we checked out at the library we went to the Bakken Museum of Electricity and Magnetism, and the American Swedish Institute for FREE. These passes are the coolest thing. We've been to all sorts of interesting places with them. Last week we used a pass to visit the Landscape Arboretum.

Anyway, both these buildings are beautiful. I prefer Bakken's exterior and the ASI's interior. Bakken was orginally built by a Goodfellow in order to impress his girlfriend who refused marry him because he was cheap. She still didn't marry him after he built a mansion. I wonder if it was because he still cheaped out here and there (like stamped concrete floors rather than tile). One weird thing (unrelated to the cheap thing), the building exterior is divided between Tudor and Gothic Revival styles, which delineated the servant quarters and the family spaces, respectively. Was Goodfellow trying to perserve the distinction of rank? Here are a few photos of the Bakken including a banister finial purportedly blessed by the Pope.

Here's the exterior of the ASI. No photos are allowed inside, which is a real shame. It's beautiful inside. There was also an exhibit of 18 ball gowns worn by Queen Silvia of Sweden at the Nobel Ceremonies. There a few I really loved and few that had me quite puzzled.

In knitting news, I've started a side-to-side vest for afghans for Afghans. The pattern is in Betty Christiansen's Knitting for Peace (part of my birthday gift from MamaSara). It's in a green from Knit Picks via MamaSara. I hope it turns out nicely for the kid who gets it. Here's a quick peek of how far I am (not far at all). Happy Knitting!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Little Girl January Revealed

I gave a mystery clue a while back and today I reveal what all the hush hush was about. One of my dearest friends Little Girl January (LGJ) will be finishing up her PhD soon. In honor of that great achievement, I have designed a purse for her. Her favorite color is purple and she's very environmentally savvy. So, my first pattern to be published, the Little Girl January Purse, is purple and made of sustainable bamboo. I will be posting the pattern as soon as I finish editing it, but here is the bag itself.

What do you think? It's the perfect size for all your essentials and just a bit more. A paperback even fits into it. I made a longer strap for LGJ since she tends to carry her bags with the strap crossing her chest. It's a pretty easy project and great for the ambitious beginner. Its knit in two identical pieces; stitches are picked up along the sides; then the three edges are seamed together with a three-needle bind off. The strap is super easy: just cast on whatever number stitches you need for your desired strap length and bind 'em off. I think this bag would be great as a tote too: just use heavier yarn and larger needles.

Stay tuned for the FREE pattern.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Glacial Mimosa- All Done

Finally, everything is done with this project. I'm done. I thought it would never end. I blocked the sucker and I'm done. Yay!!

To celebrate here is a gratuitous photo of a cute Hex sleeping. Awww!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sneak Peek, Mimosa, and Other Fiber Cocktails

It seems that most of my friends have birthdays in the summer. One such friend is getting a surprise for hers. Here's a sneak peek. The pattern will be available free on this blog during late August.

After deciding that the project was too persnickety to continue and letting the thing marinate/hibernate for a few weeks, I have finally finished the Glacial Mimosa. Pictures of the completed garment are forthcoming, but for now here are some pics of it in progress.

You just might be able to tell that it is very slightly (possibly?) striped. Well, it is and I'm still fuming about it. The yarn (originally for the Puff Sleeved Feminine Cardigan by Stephanie Japel, below in red) was from two distinct dye lots.

How did I discover this? Oh... I just knit about 95% of the sweater, saw it in natural light instead of my compact fluorescents, and went S*&^&^@#%((*&*%$!!!!!! Then with an unceremonious 'ugh' I tossed it in the darkest corner of my least used closet. Months later, I ripped out the monstrosity (my dye lot boo boo, not the pattern, I love glampyre's designs) and started the Pink Mimosa from Interweave. Thinking that if I alternate rows with the different dye lots, I might be able to make this work. I must admit that I am pleased with the striping. It is very subtle, and lends a heathery quality to the garment. So why was it banished yet again?
  1. Absolute torturous need for carrying two balls at once
  2. All the ends that needed to be woven end
  3. DK weight is SLOOOOOWWWW knitting
Anyway, it is all done. I had to add a few repeats of the lace since my bust could use a bit more coverage. All it needs now is some time blocking. I'm just glad it is done. Now I remember why I despise DK weight.

Did you know that an aran and DK weight garment differ by a factor of 2 in the number of stitches? Even more, there is a factor of 4 between aran and sockweight! Just look at the numbers. Hmmm... chunky yarn is looking really appealing right now.
  • Aran 4" square: 16 sts x 20 rows = 320
  • DK 4" square: 22 sts x 28 rows = 616
  • Sock 4" square: 32 sts x 40 rows = 1280

To end on a sweeter note, the feline-fiber bonding continues. Jynx has found yet another yarny place to cuddle, this one even comes with a view.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Cid Original and One Pooped Little Blackhead

Cid, Designer Extraordinaire, is known for her crochet and leather bags (amongst other things), and her crochet and leather bags can only be got in one way: she must give one to you. Each is utterly original and one of a kind. There are no patterns. Their genesis is completely improvised and dependent on Cid's whim at the time. As an aspiring handbag connoisseur (much to Master Blackhead's chagrin), this is a rare jewel, indeed. I have longed for one of Cid's bags since I first saw one over a year ago. It was hip, creative, and had that "hand-touched" vibe. Oh how I craved one.

Yesterday, beyond my wildest imagination, Cid dangled before me a pink and orange gift bag. My toes and every follicle on my body tingled with effervescent delight. I thought, "Could this be what I really really really hope it is?" As I peeked inside, it took every ounce of self-control and will power not to squeal too loudly. It was a Cid bag. Honestly, I think a sliver of a gasp did manage to escape. So much for playing it cool. So now I confess on my blog, when no one was watching, I did the Laura Linney:


As for the gasp-inspiring, Laura-Linney-shout-inducing, perfect confection? Here it is.

Me so happy. Thank you Cid.

A few nights ago, as I was knitting a gift for a friend far far away, my yarn jammed. Something was upon it and prevented the ball from moving freely as I knit it. I looked down. And this is what I saw.

Poor Hex, he was pooped. He spent all day running around and chasing Jynx. I tried moving him off my yarn to no avail. He just "slipped" back down the sofa cushion. He has a strange quirk when he sleeps: if either I or Master Blackhead are anywhere nearby, he must be touching us.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Small Favors: Second in a Series

Spit-splicing your yarn is unsavory. I don't care how convenient you think it is. Besides, it leaves a crusty whitish film on your yarn and fibers in your mouth. Ick! Use tap or drinking water to wet your yarn instead of spit for splicing ends together.

Why I like this?

  • You don't have to prime your mouth to generate enough saliva to completely wet your yarn ends.
  • There is no spit smell on you hands and jeans afterwards.
  • I will loan you my scissors, darning needle, or whatever else you need if there isn't spittle on your hands.
  • It's just as convenient as spit-splicing, but much more seemly.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Stalked by Yarn

Thinking I would spend the day away from Stash and Master Blackhead away from computer games, we went to the Fort Snelling Historic Site today. And while there were no computer games to be seen, I stumbled upon yarn in the Sutter Store at the Fort. It wasn't for sale, but nonetheless there it was amongst barrels and brushes.

Kinda a sad little pile really. I pity the obsessed knitter trying to replenish their Stash. I think it would have been much more appropriate if all the shelves were full of yarn. After all, how many brushes does one need, especially compared with how much one needs yarn?

After realizing that I would never escape yarn, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to avoid heatstroke and musket balls. Some interesting this were to be seen though: some muskets were fired; a blacksmith made a nail; a kitchen maid did something creative with stale bread; a little girl was threatened with some archaic dental tool by the doctor's steward. In the end, a good time was had by all.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Man Nearly Swallowed by Stash

It was a battle befitting the greatest heroes of Marvel and DC Comics: Master Blackhead vs the Hydra Stash. Each time he moved a 20 gallon bag of yarn, 9 more large bags of yarn sprang forth. Fighting furiously, Master Blackhead battled the ever-growing frontal assault of P.I.G.S. (projects in grocery sacks) and soon found himself flanked by the forces of Y.I.Z. (yarn in ziplocs). His only escape would be to build the shelves faster and faster and faster. Soon the (saw)dust began to fly as Master Blackhead valiently continued his efforts to assemble shelf after shelf. In the blink of an eye, the tide of battle turned, and in a coup-de-grace he connected the shelves and the yarn was tamed.

Flashback to yesterday: MamaSara and I went to 2 Targets, Thomasville, and Ethan Allen to look for furniture to contain her Stash. We decided on four 9 cube maple organizers and some brightly colored totes.

Today, as I maneuvered the Stash to make room for assembly and furniture moving, Master Blackhead kindly volunteered to assemble the new shelves. Being the ever generous hostess, MamaSara fed us a fabulous July 4th lunch followed by apple pie and vanilla ice cream. She even gave me more sock yarn and a pattern! Holy moly! My own Stash is turning gluttonous on me. Her contributions have doubled its size! We've spent the day working up a good sweat. When we finished, we took a little road trip to the house we're hoping to buy so MamaSara could take a look. It's still there. The grass looks more like hay, but it's still there. Well, I'm zonked and really need a shower.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Little Blackhead Moment

I've just returned from Ttink's house where she plied me with limeade and rice krispy treats (among other goodies). While there, Ttink's cat, Simon, often sought out my 30 yr old vintage leather satchel from my mom. He slept on it quite a lot. Well Jynx simply does not approve. When I got home and put the bag down, he just about had a conniption fit. He hissed at the bag and wacked it a few times with an angry paw. That's not a very nice thing to do. I'm storing my bag somewhere nice and high so it will be safe from futures assaults. And to think I was going to offer him some knitting needles earlier today.

Having My Cake and Eating It Too

Monday night Master Blackhead and I baked a cake. Something sweet to lessen the bitterness of the Great Debacle. Nothing fancy, just a Strawberry cake out of a box. In my frugal nature, instead of buying the matching Pillsbury Strawberry frosting, I decided to make do with the three cans of quarter full frosting in the fridge. The end result? Behold the Frankenfrost Strawberry Cake!

When I asked Master Blackhead if he would like a slice of the butter cream side or the lemon side, he said both. And he wanted a big slice. Well, I hate to disappoint. I cut him an eighth and plopped it (with plate and fork) into his lap. His reaction? Ummm that's a big slice. So hard to please.

As for nearly finished projects, here's a photo of the promised Koigu PPPM sock. Koigu is lovely to knit. It even has a slight luster, which delights me to no end. I had oringinally picked this yarn for myself, but realized that it wasn't for me after starting the foot. They are now earmarked for Master Blackhead. He seemed happy about that.

Another Master Blackhead project that is coming down the pipeline, a fiery red orange sweater made out of MamaSara's Princess. Here's a swatch of it.

I last mentioned his requirements. Well, he's made peace with the Mr. Rogers look since Fred's sweaters were zipped. Besides, he wore the Cambridge Jacket I knitted him last Christmas just about everyday until it got hot. Back to the Princess sweater (working name). Incidentally, I don't think I've told him that the yarn is called Princess. Probably shouldn't. I really like these two sweaters, plus they are worn by some pretty cool dudes.

This also came to mind, but I think the thought of spending all that time on something intentionally obnoxious makes no sense to me.

As I work on the Princess Sweater, I find my self in good company. Jynx has been looking at Norah Gaughan's athos pattern (my working copy) for the last few hours. The two hand wound balls of yarn in the background are Araucania Atacama another Stash transplant.

He has yet to ask for yarn and needles, but my gut tells me it could be any day now. When I asked him if he'd like me to flip the page for him, this is the look I got. I'm not sure how to interpret it?

I have been making good progress on the pink MistiCotton sweater: The body is done, the first sleeve is done up to the armpit, and the second sleeve is just past the hemmed cuff. I'm contemplating just how to make the collar. I've experimented with a couple of stitches and like this one the best so far. It's called Mock Smock and is from a pattern-a-day calendar MamaSara gave me. It reminds me of a caned seat.

I've also signed up for at Computer-Aided Engineering class at the local university. While I think getting a PhD is a fabulous accomplishment, I don't feel prepared for the corporate world of R&D. I'm taking the classes I should have taken in grad school to patch up the holes. I'm really excited to be learning again. Maybe I'm just one of those lifetime students. Despite being local, the drive from home to the university is still beastly; so, I'm taking the class as a distance learning thing. Even though it costs extra, I think it's still a bargain when gas and time are factored into the calculation.

Well, it's lunch time and there's a piece of cake calling me. I haven't tasted it yet. I hope the Frankenfrost isn't too weird.