Sunday, October 31, 2004

How the hike went, and Secret Pals Revealed!

Yesterday's highlights:

Chimney Rock at Catoctin Mountain NP
Cunningham Falls (Maryland State Park)
Catoctin Furnace (National Historic Site)

And BOY HOWDY was my ass-kicked! Apparently, the City of Rockville hikes are always underrated (difficulty-wise) and underestimated (length-wise) so the 4 hour "rocky and hilly in spots and wide and easy in others" hike actually took 6 hours and was mostly rocky with a couple of 3-5oo' elevation changes. Yee-ouch!

I admit that I was very pissy a couple of times at our intrepid leader's proclivity to "exaggerate" (read: lie) about how long or far or hard the next bit of trail was. But I lived. I would have preferred that the hike be more accurately labeled. If it had been, however, I wouldn't have done it. And that would have been worse, by far.

The travelogue for Catoctin and Rhinebeck is on the to-do list today, as well as blocking the blue scarf and washing the cashmere (I can hardly stand the suspense... Will it bloom or fade?)

In SP news, I revealed myself to my Secret Pal 2 today. Her name is Nancy, she lives in BC with her wonderful family. She doesn't have a blog (yet) but described some great sounding projects via email. I had a great time corresponding with her, and of course spoiling her.

As previously mentioned, my SP was the fantastic Kim of Kim's Knitting World. She showered me with excellent, perfectly timed pressies! Thank you again, Kim!

Friday, October 29, 2004

You can't go home again.

And other half-truths:

You maybe can't GO home again, but you sure can COME home.

And I am glad to have finally done so. This trip was one too many. I was tired the whole time, and I couldn't drum up the energy to even TRY to meet up with other knitters (particularly painful when such cool knitting ladies are in Austin). At least it is over, and tonight I will be nestled in my very own lumpy bed instead of Hampton's really hard one.

Good things may SOMEtimes come in small packages, but just as often they come in big GIANT ones marked "SP3"!

Upon arriving from the drag-ola work trip, my Sweet Baboo presented me with a big ole box of comforting well-wishes from my SP3.

Not Pictured: A gorgeous wind chime with I-Ching coins... I have already put it up!

I can hardly stand it! A lovely wooden artist's model (I love these guys, and now feel an inexplicable urge to knit this one a tee-tiny winter sweater), a lantern moon sheep tape measure, some SUPER soft blue alpaca that makes me want to drop every thing and knit something up—but what? I am thinking maybe the cool third-eye hat from Amy Singer's great hipster knit book—some lozenges, cold care tea, honey, and ginger chews to ease me on the way to full health, and last (but oh so not least) some chocolate sheep (which were very cute... that's right were) some Tazo Calm tea, a dreamy candle, and a cheeky magnet from Loose Knits.

SP3, you are rocking my world! Comfort package is RIGHT!

No REST for the wicked, but possibly some SLEEP for the mischievous.

I am going on an eight mile hike tomorrow in the beautiful (so they say) Catoctin Mts. I need some rejuvenatin' of the kind that only having my ass-kicked by nature can provide. I am hoping to get some good pictures. My fingers are crossed that I can hobble to the computer Sunday to share them.

Oh yes, knitting content: I knit some on my trip, but not as much as I would have liked. I did finish weaving in the ends on the Eyelet Cardi. I am scared to wash it, but don't feel that it will be "done" until I try. Any thoughts, words of encouragement, or warnings y'all would like to share?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Quickly quickly (in between meetings)

My SP2 sent me that great stash of presents in the last post... She ROCKS, check her out.

This time she got me the Stitch n' Bitch book, WOO (yeah, I didn't have it yet)! She also included some great project yarn (the Patons will maybe become a Celtic hat and mittens, the Mode de Dea will possibly go into a Colinette project coming up). Best of all, she sent me some of her own handmade soap! I can't wait to be home in a bubble bath trying some of this out! Thanks again for all of the wonderful stuff, Kim... You have been a wonderful Secret Pal.

All but two ends on the Eyelet Cardi from long ago have been woven in. I kind of want to try throwing it in the washer/dryer to see if it gets to a more manageable size. Has anyone washed Elann's Endless Sonata?

I did not quite finish the cashmere scarf (the browns/tans in the first picture below), but I did knit up a head band/ear warmer to go with it (trying to use up every yard of the stuff). I will try to wash them this weekend. I am dying to see whether or not the "blooming" process works.

The SP/RAOK scarf is done. There are still quite a few scraps... Maybe an SP/RAOK toque is in my future?

I feel really drained and distracted lately. I am sure all this travel is impacting my "grounded"ness. Anyone have any good grounding exercises in their repertoire?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Too many fleas (or, why there are no ideas this Friday, either)

A reasonable amount o' fleas is good fer a dog—keeps him from broodin' over bein' a dog, mebbe.
~ Edward Noyes Westcott

I have too many fleas today. A dirty house, another business trip starting Sunday morning (so no time to clean said house), many small yet cumbersome work-tasks to perform (yes, I should be doing them now instead of posting, but let's not dwell on minutiƦ), and a whole host of other whingey bullshit.

I feel very on edge, and even knitting on the pure cashmere scarf doesn't soften me up.

Why the attitude problem? (Really, I know the answer, but this is not the forum for that discussion. I am just a little worried that this chest-tightening will not go away on its own anytime soon.)

All this to say I am completely bereft of ideas. In fact, the very notion of trying to come up with ideas is making me slightly tenser than (apparently) life in general already has.

I have updated my sidebars. The astute among you will notice a sudden abundance of WIPs and UFOs. See? I am clearly a wreck. (I have been saying "clearly" way too much the last week. What does this mean? Am I searching for greater clarity or am I just so close to total burnout that my vocabulary is shrinking like a Koala's brain? [Thanks to Bess for the great article link... it has nothing to do with burnout or knitting, but everyone should read it. Now. Go on, I'll be here when you get back.])

Where the hell was I? Welcome to the Tangent Expressway, where there are plenty of exits but no signs...

Right, WIPs. I am desperate to start my thrummy thrum-thrums, but need to wrap some of these up first. My goal for this business trip is to finish at least two of them.

The cashmere scarf is being made (4x2 ribbing) from the tweedy brown 100% Cashmere I got at Schoolhouse products. It is mindless, and may make good airport terminal knitting. Although, it goes so quickly when I just apply myself that I may finish before the trip.

A's socks are Plymouth Encore in multi-red. Why is this yarn such a bitch to knit up? I have been trying to discipline the first sock with time-out (it was not allowed out the entire Rhinebeck trip) which worked wonders for Margene and her gorgeous Lara. But still it will not stop knitting too tightly or splitting at the least provocation. I should have known after the fourth cast-on attempt that this would be a problem child. Since I knit like crazy on the plane, and these guys are on my addi natura 5s, the socksies are a good candidate for business trip progress.

Then there are the gauntlets. I am using this pattern and Debbie Bliss cotton angora in black. I feel more chic just thinking about wearing these babies. But the cotton is killing my wrists for some reason. They may have to stay home this trip.

The SP/RAOK scarf is definitely coming along. Garter stitch and super cool yarns... What more could you want? This scarf is super soft and sproingy to the touch. It makes my other scarf-of-many-yarns seem downright brillo-y in comparison. I am using:
  • Cream cashmere blend and the Mode de Dea burst from SP2

  • The left over denim blue cashmere blend from SP3

  • The Katia Himalaya and mohair-esque yarn from RAOK-er Gina (left over from the 2 hour camel-colored hat)

  • Left over Schaefer Esperanza from the hood/loop thing

  • Left over Lang mohair blend from Grandma's Shawl (the fringe)

Despite the obviously appropriateness of calling it the "Leftover" scarf, I am sticking with the nearly unpronounceable "SP/RAOK" scarf (say it like sprout with a k).

The over-sweater will be huge and unwieldy in no time, so it definitely stays home. It is 100% wool from the fest, moderately scratchy, with lots of "L'Eau de Sheeps". I am using Morehouse's Sans Souci pattern. The FO should weigh approximately 87 pounds and cut the wind chill factor to null.

So much finishing needs to happen that I just might bring the dreaded Eyelet Cardi along so I can weave some ends in the hotel room. I really know how to live, huh?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Rhinebeck report, part 2

This is not a picture from Rhinebeck, but from my backyard (or as we apartment/hive dwellers like to call it: "behind the building"). It is cool and rainy and grey here. While some people are sad about this, I absolutely love it. This weather doesn't happen in the South. Sure, they get gray and rainy, but it is usually still 85°. I don't care what month it is, that ain't Fall, my friends.

But this! This is the Autumn I know and love. I am going to try to get another picture today from work. We have a really great parking lot at the office full of deer and geese and other wildlife, and of course, fall colors! I was transfixed most of yesterday afternoon by the screens of gray almost-fog that wrapped around the tree tops. God, I have missed this!

Before I blather on about the pictures, let's recap the pics I didn't get. I did not snap a shot of the fabulous Plain Vanilla (not at all plain in person, but just as soft and lovely as the rumors have it). I was too tongue-tied to capture for posterity the Rhinebeck sweater in all it's zippery, cable-y goodness. And as previously mentioned, I was too shy to do more than admire the Rogue that sank a thousand ships. Norma and Steph were just as charming in person as you would guess, and Claudia's heartfelt assurances about the ease of Rogue has me this close to buying the pattern. Anyone make their Rogue out of Peace Fleece?

Me, Saturday morning. The fest is not yet open (can you say "eager"?), and I am dressed in my vest and shawl, yet still freezing! Notice the blue and white expando-bag. This thing held my entire spoils from MDS&W, but could not hold the stash from Rhinebeck.

SR tried to steal an alpaca and had to go undercover.

Wow. Just wow, right?
See the whole picture here.
And my Fall Foliage contest entry here (taken from the Vanderbilt Mansion overlook).

I will try to post some actual knitting content tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

You've heard it all before...

But I will say it again: Rhinebeck was a blast.

First things first, while I did make a few celebrity sitings, I was far too bashful to take any pictures (and in fact, didn't even introduce myself to all the bloggers I said hi to... Sometimes I just told them their red Rogue was beautifully done).

Now, on to the meat. (Though I agree with Stephanie about eating lamb at a wool fest being counterproductive to my knitting, so I did not actually have any meat while there.)

My friend SR and I were traveling together. (She has no blog yet, and my desire to meet "total strangers" did not encourage her any to get one.) She was the intrepid driver while I played the not-so intrepid navigator. We made it there and back in one piece so I would have to say that we both did a pretty good job.

As far as the blow-by-blow of the Festival, I won't go into gory details today. Suffice it to say that we got to the fairgrounds early both days and left with our trunk full each time.

We both tried something new and picked up the beginnings of what I hope becomes another unmanageable stash:

Lara, yours is the red-yellow-purple bunch next to the blue, it is a fine wool and tussah silk blend... You will have the softest prettiest thrums ever!

I hated the drop spindle on Saturday night. I could not get the feel for it at all. I felt very "stupid" about the whole thing... Like, "why doesn't this feel even a little bit right?" Even our Guest-House mates, Harriet and Rebecca (both from Martha's Vineyard), who were very accomplished spinners could not help me get a feel for it. They gave good advice to upgrade to better tools. So on Sunday, we stopped by this booth:

My gratitude for the fabulously patient Sheila is too big for me to express right now. Plainly, she helped me get the feel for the spindle. But more importantly, she saved all those purchases from the regret pile, made me feel much less "stupid," opened the door to a whole new skill, and was absolutely wonderful about it. Seek these folks out whenever you can. They are good people. (As far as loot goes, SR had a great conversation with Jonathan about charkas and almost left with one, but instead snagged not one, but two spindles. I loaded up on the sleek purpleheart spindle on the right in the roving picture above and got some great online references from Sheila. )

Well, did we get any yarn, you ask? Some.

Most of my haul

Missing from this picture are the eleven skeins of super bulky wool that is already on its way to becoming a nice winter over-sweater.

Most of SR's haul—minus three huge bags of roving and a couple more skeins

SR heads back home today and I have some major catching up to do on sleep, housework, and of all things, knitting. With all the shopping, gabbing, and gawking, I hardly knit a thing.

I am currently working on a proper gallery of all the pictures fit to print, so stay tuned.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Rhinebeck Bound

I am still sniffly and cough-y... but damn it, I am hitting the road anyway! I will try to take a million pictures.

See you all Monday.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Not Quite Back from the Dead Yet...

In the meantime, here is a little pictorial on the last week or so:

Still needs a zipper...

Detail here.

Hat (w/ the Cashmere from my SP!) and Scarf, full pic here.

Friday, October 08, 2004

out sick

I finished off my business trip by catching a nasty head cold... up all night coughing, now I am all woozy with drowsiness. I am going to rest up so that I can be sure to have shaken this thing in time for Rhinebeck!

I did finish some things, and had a fun SnB with some Austinites, but I am too wiped out to write all about it. Rest assured, I will be back w/ pics as soon as I can.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Saturday FOs and a new Gallery

First things first, here is progress on my Rhinebeck Vest:

For more detail, such that there is, click here.

I got a fantastic gift from my SP3 today... Her timing couldn't be more perfect! She sent a Calligraphy quick start set (I am excited to try this out in time for xmas cards), a dreamy goat's milk soap (I ♥ rose geranium!), and a beautiful miniature photo album for 2x3 photos. How did SP3 know that I was fondling this exact photo album last Tuesday at B & N with Lara??

Um. Lara. Are you my SP3?

And of course, the whole shebang was accompanied by a very cute and funny card... Thanks SP3!

Today I took a little nature-trip to the Patuxent River to see Monarch Butterflies. Unfortunately, there were no Monarchs around. But I did get some great pictures of birds, frogs, and landscapes. I have added a link to the photos under the galleries heading on the right.

While on the ride up to the park, I finished Amon's socks!

Pattern—Basic child large from Vicki Square's Knit Great Basics (also where the vest is from, more or less).
Yarn—Lion Brand Wool-Ease in forest green and bright red (he specifically requested "green with red on top" we shall see if these really fit the bill.
Notes—I used two circular US5s. Addis Natura needles, to be exact, and I think for woolly socks I actually prefer the cheap ole Susan Bates aluminum needles. The wood has a smidge too much nice grab.

My next socks will be toe-up and short-rowed. I got some great info from the Queen of the World on this technique, and then bought a book. It wasn't chickening out, really. It was enhancing my library. Who doesn't need more books?

In any case, I will be led by the hand through the short-row brambles by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts.

No more posts until Friday, as I am back in Austin for the week. I am hoping to meet up with Lisa and the Austin SnB crowd while I am there. I will be taking the vest, the toe-up socks and a gift scarf. Cross your fingers that I have all kinds of FOs when I get back!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Untitled no. 7

I am taking Ryan’s wonderful advice and writing this post up in Word before even opening Blogger. Why does it take so long for me to learn?

Have you started your Blogger Bag™ for Rhinebeck? Or have you decided instead to knit a whole sweater in a week, like Stephanie, Claudia, Silvia, and Norma?

Trainers and coaches say that if you want to really make progress, find a deadline and then work your tail off to make it. This is a really great way to bust through a weight loss or fitness training plateau, you know… Find a local 5k and then sign up for it.

Now, I am not running a 5k anytime soon (that is a subject for a gloomier blog post some other day). But, it would probably do my lazy-ass well to sign up and commit to walk one.

That being said, this little knitterly marathon has proven contagious. While I am not ready to run with a whole Aran, I might possibly be trying to "walk" up a vest in time for Rhinebeck, possibly with a zipper, or maybe buttons. I am using the wonderful Lopi RAOK’d to me by the very generous Cheryl. Pictures will be forthcoming. I know that I am not one of the runners, but maybe I can finish well in my class.

In not-so happy news, the triops are dying. Turns out the water-changing is cumbersome and without a substantial time commitment to the process, ineffective. I am a little bit more sad about this than I should be. They are only shrimp after all. But it makes Sweet Baboo and my lack of “nurturing skills” very apparent. No dog for us anytime soon.

My SP3 has asked that I be more forthcoming with my travel plans, so she can time her packages. How awesome is that? I am more than happy to comply, though usually Sweet Baboo is home to safeguard any mail that arrives while I am away. The next month plus looks like this: I will be in Austin all next week, Rhinebeck two weekends later, back to Austin during the last week of October, and visiting the ILs the first weekend in November. Ack!? Travel much?