Thursday, 27 October 2011

This is turning into a weekly update

First things first, Princess is doing much better. She's being anointed twice a day - a process she really doesn't like though it validates my daily corporate cuddling (I hold her like a baby and give her skritches until she purrs (and only then will I let her go if she wiggles)). In some ways, Princess is a lot easier with things like this than Ginger Kitty - he's a big scaredy cat and struggles desperately to escape from anything he perceives as threatening, which is pretty much everything*. Princess, otoh, will lie there passively until she thinks you've been lolled into complacency or are distracted and then she'll try and slink off. The ointment we were given (which is to say purchased at no small expense) is marketed for dogs and suggests application before feeding or going for a walk so the pup in question will be distracted from trying to scrape or lick it off. Eating holds very little appeal for our Princess but she's a huge fan of the Magic Red Dot so her evening applications happen immediately proceeding Red Dot Time. Her morning anointing is supposed to come before Treat Time but she's wise to us and has stopped showing up. Ginger Kitty thinks with his tummy and would fall for it every time and twice on Sundays.

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My Jamesion & Smith Superior Jumper Weight Yarn finally arrived (though I still haven't received a reply to yesterday's, "You haven't fogotten my order, have you?" email), so I'm finally good to start on my Sheep Heid hat. In the meantime I'd cast on a Peruvian style Fair Isle cap for my Dear Husband but, even though I'm trying to keep the carrying strand loose, it's pulling too tight. Bugger. Mind you, if it's too loose than the stitches will sag and stretch and that's possibly worse. There's a golden tension - I just have to find it.

My Purple Peace socks are growing. I spent most of yesterday redoing the first heel only to rip it back to the gusset before bed. Each time I frog something and redo it I gain a greater understanding of what success - in this case defined as "things being the way I want them to be" - looks like, right?

My yarn swift arrived last week and I had to take it out and play with it right away, winding a skein of Malabrigo Sock Yarn. It works like a dream, though perhaps not a happy one for Ginger Kitty. He paced the perimeter of the room, unable to decide if he should flee or pounce. When I finished, he jumped up on my roll-top to investigate:

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Our dishwasher broke on Sunday and the earliest the repair man can make it out is Monday. We've been having a left-overs and take-away week and we're still doing at least two rounds of dishes-washing a day. Chris washes, I dry and put away. There was a small disaster yesterday as Chris, in his over-zealousness, dumped his half-drunk Gin & Tonic down the sink and washed the glass. The ice had melted and he thought it was an abandoned glass of water (forgetting that he'd set it there, on the other counter/worktop moments before). This overly-zealous approach to cleaning up while I'm cooking has often resulted in me exclaiming, "But I was still using that!" Now he knows how it feels.

In other news, Chris got both the new Steve Jobs' biography and his (Chris') new MacBook on Monday. I have a very happy husband - though he keeps the biography face down as the front cover picture is "Scary Steve" and the back cover picture is "Nice Steve". I can't make these things up. Chris has even read a (singular) chapter.

I stalled out on my aSoFaI reread (because I was watching telly while knitting, not because I wasn't interested) but I was able to get into a partial Hollows (by Kim Harrison) reread. I saw that book 9, Pale Demon, had come out in paperback and the kindle price dropped accordingly, so I reread books 5 through 8 and then read book 9 in its entirety on Tuesday. I started Pratchett's latest, Snuff (an ebook I'd pay HC prices for) that evening but decided I'm not yet ready to let go of Rachel Morgan so I've switched back to telly for the time being.

I'm catching up on (A Town Called) Eureka and am halfway through season 4. I didn't recognize Balthazar, from Battlestar Galactica, until he made the crack about hallucinating a "tall blonde in a slinky red dress" and then I could've believe I'd missed it. All I can really say in my defence is that it's been some time since I've seen BSG. I still haven't seen the second half of the fourth (and final) season of that series! I also acquired Castle with Nathan Fillian. I had seen an episode or two before I moved to the UK and have heard nothing but good things about it since. I tried showing an episode to Chris but he didn't seem interested, so I guess that's a "watch while he's at work" series, too.**

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* he's actually getting better. Now, instead of bolting for a hiding place in a cupboard, he'll often bolt a few feet and then circle around to see if it was actually threatening or just startling. His orange coat is a Red Herring - this is the real reason he's known as Ginger Kitty.

** Our watch-together series are, currently, Hawaii 5-0, Star Trek TNG (we ran out of ripped Voyager and DS9 so those are paused, as is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, House and Numbers), Stargate:SG1, and The Big Bang Theory. We just watched the NYE and my husband is very sad that the Aquaman costume with sea horse steed doesn't actually exist. Someone get on that!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

On Husbands, Socks, Steam and Swifts

Last night my husband came up to me as I was reading in bed, reported on The Paying of the Bills, and said, "send me the link for the wool for the sheep hat." And my little wifely heart did flip-flops of happiness beneath my breast*. Today, my little wifely hands added the appropriate skeins of Jamieson and Smith (1 ball in each colour) to a shopping cart and took the liberty of ordering them myself because A) it's easier than saving the shopping cart and emailing a link to my husband and then looking over his shoulder while he orders**, B) he defaults to ordering things in his name just as I default to ordering things in my name but I don't open things that arrive in his name unless I'm 100% certain I know what's inside and that it's for me and I like opening things so it needs to be in my name, and C) I still have the debit card from taking Princess to the vet***.

Is that not an amazing hat? I'm really hoping she'll chart matching mittens.

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I finished the Brainless Socks (for Husband) - not to be confused with Brainless Husband Socks as that would be something else entirely. I mentioned them previously. They knit up very quickly, though I had to frog my first start after a few inches and switch to a smaller needle. That's my method of swatching for socks as it's no more effort than knitting a small square or tube and has the advantage that, if it's correct, you're already a few inches in. When I started over I decided to do the entire cable pattern with twisted stitches, though I did a straight rib and, if I did that over again I wouldn't. I hadn't done a lot of fibbing so I wasn't cognizant of how twisted verses non-twisted rib would look and I prefer twisted rib. But they look fine and Chris is completely in love with them, and that's what counts.

I didn't really touch my Zum Dirndle socks until yesterday. I twist the yarn as I knit and I can't dangle two-at-a-time socks to un-twist the yarn so I moved one sock to DPNs (bamboo - the only other needles I have in 2.0mm but I'm worried they'll snap if I actually knit on them) and am working on the other sock in magic loop. I'll just have to switch projects around frequently enough that my tension stays even.

I cast on a pair of Wendy D Johnson's A Finer Peace socks using Ripples Crafts BFL sock yarn in "plummy". To get the fabric I want I'm knitting the largest size on 1.5mm needles(!). They'll be amazingly warm but will probably take as many hours as the uber-complicated knee socks. I need to buy thicker sock yarn for faster socks.

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We received an Amazon gift card from Shaun and Uli and I did a happy dance because it was a lot of money for spending on SF/F novels and, as my DH isn't much of a reader, that meant it was all for me. Chris insisted it was meant for wedding registry purchases (ignoring the fact that if they wanted to pick something off of our Amazon registry they could've done and the fact that Shaun confirmed it was intended as Book Money) so we each got to pick something "for the household" - a yarn swift for me and a milk steamer for him.

See, a certain fiancé-cum-husband had a very fancy, very expensive coffee machine that he'd had for years and loved. It was the kind that you fill with beans and then push one of a handful of buttons, letting it know if you'd like one or two shots and if they should be shots or Americano and I don't even know what all else, except it also had a milk steamer. Only it stopped working so my fiancé-cum-husband bought a new coffee machine, one that doesn't grind it's own beans but still has a milk steamer, packed up the broken one, and sent it off for repairs. Fast-forward about four months and his coffee machine is finally finished and eventually shipped back (with instructions to use filtered water and occasionally descale it) and my husband put the replacement unit in my office**** and set the original one up in his. All was once more perfect in his world except...Remember the new coffee machine? The cute little blue one? Well, it has a better milk steamer than the big expensive one and this occasionally causes husbands to pout and dream of better milk steamers. That's why we had to use my SF/F novel money to buy a milk steamer.

Obviously no explanation is needed for buying a yarn swift.

* I'm having a flowery kind of day. Aren't you?

** I trust my husband but I don't trust teh interwebs

*** She's been naughty and scratched all the fur off one spot under her chin. She did this last October and we took her to the vet and got some ointment and it healed and everything was fine and dandy. We noticed on Sunday that she'd done it again and told her that if she didn't leave it alone and let it heal she'd have to go to the vet and it was bleeding again yesterday (Wednesday) so the threatened trip to the vet happened and we once more have ointment and a dreaded Cone of Shame which is the current "if you don't leave it alone...!" threat. The vet says it's probably a seasonal dermatitis issue as she is otherwise the picture of health and I suspect it will be an annual pilgrimage. Or tri-annual as, this time, I'm not going to throw the ointment away until it expires (in 2014).

**** Originally he was going to keep the new one and sell the old one but he may need to establish an office in town so he's keeping the old one and keeping the new one for that eventual office. I occasionally ask, "are you sure?" but mostly just smile and nod.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Beginner Projects

Having just retaught myself how to crochet, I've been thinking about how I learn to do things, specifically crafts, and I realized something: I don't like beginner projects. Full stop, end of - I don't do them. I understand the point, mastering one step before moving on to the next, but I don't want to invest time in a pointless finished project. This is why most of my crafting abilities are self-taught rather than learned at my mother's knee, even though I grew up in a crafty house.

My mother, when it came time to pass on her DIY skills, picked age-appropriate projects similar to the ones on which she cut her crafty teeth. When I wanted to learn to sew she bought a print half-apron for me - it was one piece printed on a single sheet of fabric and one would cut it out, sew the waist-band in half lengthwise and hem the edge of the apron. I think I got as far as cutting it out and pinning the waistband. I didn't want an apron, let alone one that looked like that apron, and even though I wanted to learn to sew, I refused to work on the project. That was the end of the sewing lessons.

Fast foward to Uni/college where I started dancing (Irish ceili, English country, and Victorian ballroom) and wanted appropriate costumes. That summer I sat down at my mother's sewing machine and made a Victorian ballgown from the underwear out, buying only the shoes and corset. I started with the bloomers and chemise (with pin-tucks and lace!), then a 5' diameter hoopskirt (11 hoops), a skirt (cartridge pleats), a ballgown bodice (boned, lined and trimmed in lace), and then a day-bodice with velvet trim. I also made a flannel-lined wool cloak and a plain chemise and bloomers for Renfaire. That was my beginner project. Did I do everything right? No. Did I make mistakes? Yes. Did I ask a lot of questions and redo things? You betcha. But I sat down to make myself a ballgown and by-golly I did it.

I am the same way with cooking, with knitting, even with programming. I want to hit the ground running and I have boundless faith in my ability to figure things out (or ask for help when I need it). My first knitting project following a pattern was a cable-edged shawl. Uber-complicated? No, but certainly something of which I could - was and am - be proud.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Socktoberfest 2011

It is finally Socktober and that means my first ever Socktoberfest! I know most of you aren't as excited as I am, but as I've decided to be a great knitter of socks (they're faster and cheaper than sweaters but still have potential daily use unlike shawls) having a community ready to uber-obsess about knitting socks is pretty darn nifty.

Socks in Progress:
- Zum Dirndl for me, using Wollmeise Twin in a gorgeous blue. I've turned the heel and am starting up the leg which means adding another three charts, each with a different repeat length. These are officially out of the "mindless knitting" category which is why I've cast on...
- Brainless for my husband, using Araucania Ranco Multy in Fern which is a perfect colour for October, a medley of greens and oranges just like the world outside.
Both socks are from the same designer, Yarnissima, and have the same elements but rendered differently. Both socks have a cable along each side, but mine are twisted and symmetrical and his are regular and identical. My gussets had a bit of lace and more twisted stitches, his don't. It's a bit odd doing the complicated socks first, and then the easy ones, but it adds to the "mindless" aspect of the knitting.

In other October knitting news, there was a Gansey Festival (conference) in Inverness over the weekend, celebrating all things Gansey (also known as Guernsey in other parts of the world British Isles). The website was a bit confusing, saying there was free admission to X, Y, and Z and listing various admission rates (weekend, daily, half-daily) and fees for taking the classes. I figured I'd go and see what there was to see and hope to purchase some yarn: I want to knit a sweater but haven't yet committed to a pattern. I wrote down yarn requirements for two projects I want to start: a hooded scarf and the Sade hat and mittens for the Google+ October KaL. Did I purchase yarn for either of these projects? Of course not! I bought sock yarn (thus tying it all back to Socktoberfest): three skeins of Ripples Crafts BFL/nylon sock - two stripy skeins for Chris and one purple skein for me. There wasn't enough bulky yarn in one colourway to knit the scarf and the only worsted weight yarn for the hat and mittens was extra scratchy and not something I'd want against my skin. I'll keep looking.

Other than yarn purchased, how was the Gansey Fest? Well, I think it would've been better without Chris. He got home and swore never to do that again, meaning go anywhere near the hospital grounds where the conference was being held. He didn't eat before we left, food there was expensive and limited, it was drizzling the whole time we were walking around (getting there and leaving - the conference was indoors), and he was very grumpy. So we wandered around the market, had some food, and left.