Wednesday, 30 July 2008

New Pattern

Sorry about yesterday's book post in here. I have no recollection of putting it here and am fairly certain I just got confused. I'll leave it now since there are comments.

I just found my next sock pattern. It's in the new Fall Interweave, which I don't actually have yet, but should soon (if they know what's good for them). It's called Knotty or Knice, is from the same designer as my Twisted Tuplips and is just up my street. I'm looking forward to doing those. I also need to find out where she gets the yarn. It's a great shade of yellow. Dark enough not to be insipid and light enough not to be grating. I swear a sock design is half made if you get the right yarn. Even the best patterns look bad if you have an ugly yarn. That's how the yarn maufacturer's get us to buy more sock yarn. You've always got to have a little of everything on hand just in case the right pattern comes along. *sigh* They are so smart. Must learn to be smarter.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Far From a Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

I liked this book. Even though it was the same no-frills style of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, it was a lot cheerier. The characters still had a difficult time of it, but they didn’t suffer quite the hardships as Tess and also didn’t suffer the moral anguish Tess made herself suffer. I think Hardy’s point of success in life through hard work, sense and morals was better made in Far From a Madding Crowd. The characters were likeable, at least those who were supposed to be, and Hardy built up a good picture of what life might have been like in rural areas at the time. It was interesting to see how the social structure of farms worked, especially the labour markets that took place once a year.

All in all it’s a good book and one I would recommend for anyone who likes the literature of the time. Hardy is less romantic than many of the century’s earlier authors, but is still engaging and a good story teller.

Moll Flanders

I decided to create a new blog after all for the Classics Challenge and book reviews: BlackSheepBooks. Here's a link to my first post about Moll Flanders if you're interested.


Can anyone out there tell me what I was thinking? Because I really just don’t know.

I knit a hat and a scarf for my aunt in the Four Seasons Carola yarn I got on sale (same yarn as the Candle Flame Shawl only in light blue). I liked this yarn and as it was on sale, I bought some more in dark blue when I went to pick up the extra I needed for the shawl. See, for the shawl I was thinking I would need 6 because I needed 2.5 for my aunt’s scarf, so I reasoned that 6 would be good for the shawl. I was wrong. I needed more. No biggie. It was a different pattern and I just figured it needed more yarn because of that. So, I went back to the yarn store and bought 3 more skeins of orange and 3 dark blue for my planned scarf. A week or two later, I realized that I would need one more to finish off the shawl and not wanting to actually GO to the LYS where I would be tempted by the sock yarn dept. beyond my endurance, I reached for my mouse to order on-line. Only when you order by mail, you pay $7 for the package and I didn’t want to pay $2 for the yarn and $7 for the package, so I thought about what else I needed.

Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t have enough of the dark blue to knit my scarf and what was I thinking when I only bought three skeins, after all, the shawl required 10 so it makes total sense that you would need 6 for a scarf, right? I ordered another three to make the whole order worth while.

I guess you’ve all spotted the error in logic by now. In my defence, I wasn’t thinking of all this at once. It was over a period of weeks and by the time I was ordering the one orange skein, I had forgotten that I only needed 3 for the scarf. Now I have too much yarn for my project and not enough for anything really big. I guess I’m going to have to make another scarf. I’ll find some victim for Christmas. Oh what? You already have 5 scarves? Oh sorry.

Oh, and I’ve just found (quite literally as I am multi tasking) the sock pattern to the scarf: River Rapids. I don’t think it’s the same designer, but the pattern is the same. I think I’ll use the lovely Merino I got from my friend Thepinksheep for Christmas. That yarn has been languishing in my stash waiting for me to find the perfect pattern and I think this will do nicely. Can’t wait to start them now! However, I must be good and finish off the bamboo socks and my scarf (I really need these for Fall) before I start on winter projects. I have cast them on on Ravelry though. That way I won’t forget.

I've also just joined the Classics Challenge (courtesy of Mariknits) and will be reviewing books from time to time. I know other people have started new blogs for this, but I'm going to reach the point where I can't keep up with all that I have, so just feel free to skip the book reviews if you're not interested.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Finished Product

Thanks to all of you who sent me an opinion on the Candle Flame Shawl border. I really do appreciate the input, especially as I am designed and taste challenged. Since just about everyone was for keeping the border, I ripped it out...and then re-knit it the same way only starting at the narrow point of the pattern instead of at the wide point. It looks much better this way. I also used smaller needles than for the body of the shawl. That made the “scallops” look less floppish. I finished knitting, weaving in the ends, washing and blocking it this weekend. Blocking was incredibly easy. I just washed it and hung it up on the line with a clothes pin on every scallop. Worked like a charm. Now, for the finished product:

I liked the shawl so well that I’m going to do one for myself, only in blue. How could it be otherwise? I should have enough of my Rogue Sweater yarn left over to do one large enough. I might even be a bit quicker with this one since the yarn is thicker. Fat yarn is usually a bonus.

In the meantime, I’m working on a rather pretty scarf for myself. It’s the Falling Water scarf from Ravelry. I like the effect of the waves and yos that make it look like water streaming down with droplets on the side. Again, it is in blue. I can’t help it. I like blue. I keep buying blue. I really need to learn to branch out. However, in my defence, blue matches everything I wear since I’m usually wearing, you guessed it, some shade or other of blue.

No, wait, let me retract that. Today is probably the first day in the history of my life that I’m not actually wearing anything blue. I’ve got sage green Crocs, green pants and a brown t-shirt on. It’s a first; mark it in your calendars. I’ll spare you pictures of that at least.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


I'm in need of opinions. I've decided to change the border of the Candle Flame Shawl I'm knitting for my cousin-in-law from normal garter stitch to a bit of a fancier edge. I've "designed" one myself, but I'm not sure if I like it so I want opinions. Here it is:

The whole thing without a border (colour is more accurate):

Top border:

Whaddya think? Leave it? Scrap it? Anyone?

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Knitting Update

Skimming through my entries, I realize I haven’t actually shown any knitting lately, although I do babble on about it quite a bit. There’s nothing really exciting to tell, which is why there has been no pictures. However, in the name of knitting, I’ll post them anyway:

I finished my Cotton Stretch Phone Socks (for me):

I started working on the Bamboo Phone Socks (for me), which I think I’ve already raved about:

I’m also nearly done with the Candle Flame Shawl:

I’m looking forward to completing that one just so I can see how it looks off the needles. I am a bit wary of the garter stitch edge on the top. I think I might do moss or I dunno. Something else. I just don’t care for the garter stitch.

Oh, and I also finished my Sooper Sekrit Project, but I can’t show you pictures because it’s, well, sooper sekrit, for the moment anyway.

In real news, I’m enjoying the calm before the storm, so to speak. It’s felt like fall here the last couple of days which has been very, very nice. It’s set to get back up there this weekend and stay like that for the following week though. I console myself with the knowledge that it can’t last too long since this is the end of July and high summer is over by mid-August (yay!).

Sparkly collar update: I tried wrapping aluminium foil around T’s collar, but the flies pretty much just laughed. Like with the homemade remedy, it kept them off part of him, but not off his nose, mouth and eyes, which is the worst. I may take Gabi’s advice and look into getting an anti-fly halter for ponies. That might help. Poor T. He’ll be glad when high summer is over too. He likes laying in the grass, but not when he’s covered in flies. Poor mite.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Bags O' Water and Sparkly Collars

OK, since just about everyone asked about the sparkly vs. fly thing mentioned in my last post, I’m going to tell you what I’ve always been told: Bags of water (sparkly in sunlight) refract the light and mess with the fly’s vision and that keeps them away. Just to check and see if there was anything in this, I Googled. Apparently it’s not a scientifically confirmed thing, but a lot of restaurants use it and it’s a widely spread home remedy. I did find a blog entry on it from The Hardware Aisle which is interesting (although the ad was annoying until I figured out how to close it). Einstein’s cronies may not find the experiment scientifically acceptable, but hey, as long as you tie them well enough and make sure there are no holes in the bag, it’s not going to hurt to try. Oh yes, you might want to point out to any children in the area that they are not to be used as target practice, even if they are just thowing their pick up sticks at them like tiny javalins.

The sparkly collar is a different version of this. I think they must have adapted it because tying ziplock baggies full of water to your dog is not a very practical solution, even if it does provide him with a ready source of drinking water at all times. If the bambling against the body didn’t drive them up the wall, just imagine the chaos when they lay down on top of them. On your new carpet. Or wooden floor. Good idea. Thus, sparkly collar it is. Today we tried the cheapo version: aluminium foil. Wrap the foil around the dog’s collar. /instructions. It worked to a point. Just as with the homemade remedy I mixed up, it keeps them off part of him, but not all. They still crawl around in his eyes and nose which is what annoys him and disgusts me. However, sticking clove oil in my nose would send me up the wall within a relatively short space of time, so you can imagine what it would do to poor Mr. Sooper Sensitive “I prefer eau de horse manure” Nose. Maybe I should make him a whole suit out of aluminium foil. That might keep them off, even if it did give the dog psychological problems.

Frankly, I do have another theory about the sparkly collar thing: I think the flies see the collar, think “OMG another Barbie Worshipper” and fly off in disgust. Just think about it from a fly’s point of view; masses of Barbies are bought, played with and tossed, so after however many years Barbie has been with us (the first year was already too much Barbie, frankly) all of the landfills are full of them, crowding out the good bits of trash. Flies can’t eat or breed on plastic. They prefer things like banana skins and moldy socks for that. If we keep on buying Barbies and putting them in landfills, the flies will eventually have nothing left to live off of and become extinct.

This leaves us with the philosophical questions of Which is worse, the Barbie or the Fly? Is a Barbie still silent if there’s no one around to hear it be silent or does it start screaming its head off in rage as soon as there is no human in the near vicinity? Would the plastic used to make a Barbie have preferred to have become a plastic stitch holder or knitting needle had it been given the choice. Deep. Deep I tell you. Just about as deep as your local landfill.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Randomness - Again

This weekend, or at least Sunday, was a knitter’s dream day. Excepting dog walks and toilet breaks, I spent quite literally the whole day listening to an audio book and knitting. I finished one and a half socks. Go me. I finished the pair of cotton socks I’d been working on in Four Seasons Cotton Stretch. They’re quite nice and I’m fairly certain I will like wearing them better than the other cotton ones I have. They’re stretchier and will probably fit better.

Then, because I was curious, I started a plain pair in the cotton bamboo I bought a few weeks ago. That. Yarn. Is. Fabulous. Fab I tell you. Soooo soft and so nice to work with, especially in comparison to the normal sock yarn I use, which wears like steel and keeps your feet warm. I’ve no doubt these socks will be warm, but they will probably be waaaaay too comfy too. The only fear I have is that they won’t be quite so hard wearing and I do wear socks. Still, I’m sure they will be comfy.

I’ve also been working on the Candle Flame Shawl. It’s getting there. Slowly, but surely. One day…

Also, a huge thanks to whoever sent us the nice, cool, rainy weather! It poured rain all weekend and it’s still 55°F and overcast out. It is supposed to get warm tomorrow and Wed., but should go back to rainy and cool for the weekend. Yay!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Dogs, Flies and The Knitter's Prayer

My dog has no idea how lucky he is. Really. He doesn’t. Not only did I not throttle him, give him away, starve him, or make him go beg on a street corner, but I’m now going to spend time running around to three different shops to buy the contents of a homemade anti-fly mixture. How lucky can you get?

The poor wee mite winds up covered in flies every time we go out now. His whole head winds up looking like one huge living mass and it’s disgusting. It also cannot be comfortable. So, what does a good non-throttling owner do? One calls the vet and asks what to do. Unfortunately, they have no ready made sprays but she did give me one of those “grandma’s recipes” for keeping flies off horses. You take:

Black tea
Clover Oil
Tea Tree Oil
Citronella Oil

Mix them together and spray or dab on dog. I’ll be dabbing around his eyes, but I’ll spray his body. Poor mite. Hopefully this will help.

Oh yeah, the other option? Get him a glittery collar. I must rush out and buy a rhinestone studded collar for him to look like a complete fool in. I can see it now, walking around with my cross dressing Great Dane in public with a glittery collar. Oh the joy. Actually, the situation is so bad, I would actually consider this option, but I don’t know where to get a 26 inch glittery collar, especially not in a hurry. We’ll go with Grandma’s recipe, shall we?

In knitting news the good news is that I’ve gotten a bit more of the Candle Flame Shawl done; the bad news is that I think I’m going to run out of yarn. I’d already gone back to get two more balls, now I’m going to have to go back again. I think I may chicken out and order over the internet. That’s got to be easier than driving there and probably cheaper too with gas being what it is (namely $8 a gallon). Plus, if I’m not there, I won’t be tempted to buy other yarn that I don’t need since I really, really do have enough stash. I don’t need more yarn. Now, let’s all say the Knitter’s Prayer together:

Our Father
Who art in the great LYS in the sky
Woollen be thy name.
Thy yarn shipment come
They skeins be spun
In Alpaca as well as in Cashmere.
Give us this day our daily skein
And forgive us our dropped stitches
As we forgive out needles.
Lead us not into Startitis,
But delivers us from UFOs
For thine is the Merino,
The Mohair
And the Qiviut forever.


PS: Please let them have more of the same dye lot.

Friday, 4 July 2008

How to know that you need treatment for Ipod addiction

This morning I got up, I got ready and took the dogs for a walk. As has become my habit since I bought my Ipod about 3 months ago, I stuck the thing in my ear and listened to an audio book (currently Far From the Madding Crowd) as we walked. I got home, fed the dogs, got ready for work, listening to my book the whole time. Just as I arrived at work, the book jumped to the next chapter. Irritated, I tried to replay it, but to no avail. The book kept jumping from the middle of chapter 19 to chapter 20. Still irritated, I thought there was a problem with the file and I’d have to check it in the evening. The problem was that I wanted to listen to something at lunch, so I fired up the comp when I got home and plugged in my Pod; nothing. Jiggled Pod; further nothing. Unplugged and replugged Pod; more nothing. Expletives commence. Then I noticed that the lock symbol was showing so I tried toggling the lock button; again nothing. And just so's ya know, banging it on the table does not make an Ipod unlock either. The bloody thing was broken.

I would have been happier had you told me that I had no electricity or water. I could live with that. We have a natural spring outside, so I could always bath in that needs be. It’s summer and light out until 10pm. I can knit on the balcony electricity free. I also have candles. No problem. No phone line? I’d live. Just don’t take my Ipod away. Take my Ipod away and I can’t listen to my books; this is terrible. OK, yeah, there’s worse, but it’s horrible all the same. Add to that that no water or no electricity are considered by most people to be a necessity so they get fixed promptly. Send an Ipod in for repairs? Two weeks min. but more like two months. I spiralled into frustrated rage. I wanted to meet Steve Jobs and thrust my Ipod into his hands and ask what kind of crap he was putting on the market. And then tell him to damn well fix it instantly or face my withdrawal symptoms which were frankly already fairly ugly by this point. It would serve him right for putting something so addicting out onto the market. Come to think of it, I could probably go to America and sue both Apple and Audible for providing addictive and mood altering substances and win billions. That aside, I wanted Steve Jobs to suffer and suffer NOW. After all, I was suffering. I was standing out in the sun with the dogs sans Ipod and audio book. OK, I wasn’t without Ipod, I had it in my hand repetitively locking and unlocking it in a desperate attempt to get it to work again. I’ve probably worn out the buttons with all the pushing I did, which did about as much good as trying to catch the shade of a fly when standing out in the blazing sun. The bloody thing wouldn’t budge. It was still frozen with the cover from Viva la Vida staring at me tantalizingly. The only thing that kept me from throwing it into the creek was the knowledge that that would have voided the guarantee.

So, after much standing around pushing buttons and flipping of the lock switch, I took the dogs back in early, gave them a big chewy for the inconvenience of lost lunch time and started searching for the receipt while wondering just how long I would have to wait, if they had loaner Pods and if not, should I really buy another one just because this one was broken. Yes, I admit it, I was ready to plonk for a second Pod. After all, what if this happened again?!? Would I survive? Would I spend weeks walking around with the ear buds in my ears that were plugged into nothing in the hopes that sound would magically appear anyway? Would they lock me up in the local loony bin? (I’m never very far away from that last option at the best of times) Found receipt. Decided to leave work early so I could take it to customer service and scream at someone to release my frustration and then thought, I’ll Google troubleshooting again.

Intense relief ensued. There is a troubleshooting page dedicated to just this problem. All you have to do is hold the middle button and the menu button down together for 6 to 8 seconds and the thing resets itself without corrupting your files. 6 seconds and the world had righted itself again. I instantly stuck the ear bud in and turned it on to chapter 19 of Far From the Madding Crowd. Not only did it play again, but it stopped skipping to chapter 20. Birds were singing, the dogs were content with their chewy and I could drive back to work whilst listening to my book. Life would be good if I hadn’t realized that it’s not a question of whether or not I am insane, but of just how insane I really am.

Rather anti-climactically, it’s cooler today and this makes me happy. I feel like my soul has been given respite. I know I complain about it a lot (mostly in jest) but I really just don’t like heat in the same manner as really just not liking fish. Yes, I can eat fish if I have to, but I won’t enjoy it. I can also live with the heat and the sun if I have to, but it maketh me a rather grumpy camper. Now just imagine if my Pod had died on a day when it was 95° and humid…no, wait, we'll just skip that particular picture shall we? The mention of it just made my blood pressure rise.

I also have an interview next week with a job agency. We’ll see what comes of it, if anything. I’m rather picky you know. No point in moving jobs if I don’t think I will be happier at the end of it all.Dogs are fine (no, I wasn’t mean to them in my frustration, indeed they got a large chewy out of it), cats are fine, work is extremely slow for the season and now it’s Friday. 1 hour and counting.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Randomness - Again

Something happened recently that hasn’t happened in a very long time: Not one, but two evenings in a row, I didn’t knit a single stitch. The world is still turning, so I’m working on the assumption that this isn’t really any big deal, it was just odd. Usually, even when I do have to do other things, I squeeze in a round or two of whatever my current project is, but it’s just been too hot to care, especially after having done a myriad of other things, like reinstalling 18 blinds and flyscreens on my windows after they were replaced. That was fun, or not.

Before any of the Californians say anything, I know. I’m glad I’m not there. Really glad and I send my sympathies. But even the knowledge that is worse where you are, was not going to make me knit despite the heat.

I’ve now had to ditch any of the heavy projects or projects made with wool, so the Candle Flame Shawl is on hiatus as is my Sooper Sekrit Project. I’ve started working on a cotton sock instead. Much better. Cool, light yarn is just the thing for the heat (coupled with lack of ariconditioner). I also like this new cotton yarn better than the other I had been knitting with to date. This figures since A: I have boat loads of the old cotton yarn and B: the new cotton yarn only comes in two colours I even remotely like. Ah well, that will force me to use the old, even if I’m not fond of the non-stretchiness of it.

By the way, should any of you think it’s odd that I work for an AC company, loath the heat, and yet don’t have and AC at home, it’s not really. There are problems with it or I would, guaranteed. The house I live in is too old, the electrics are ancient and my neighbours probably wouldn’t want the hum of the outdoor unit. Ergo, no AC. Must move to first world country, or possibly Scotland, or Canada, or Alaska…Anyone have any good job opportunities in those areas? :P