Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The City that Care Forgot

I lived here for over 3 years. So close to the river levy.

When Earl was headed our way in 1998, no one was particularly worried. That was the first year I created a "Hurricane Survival Kit" of flashlights and candles. I was too broke to put much else in it. That year proved to be busy, storm-wise.

Frances was only a tropical storm, but she was scary. I remember seeing news clips of people in canoes just blocks from my house, but being on the river side of town, I was on somewhat higher ground and had no more than mud puddles in my yard.

The levies kept us high-and-dry when Georges came through (though that was a long hot afternoon with no power and no way of knowing that the storm had turned toward Biloxi). The news had been showing the "Worst Case Scenario" animation clips of the city filling up with water for days beforehand. The highest point in town would be 15 feet under water, they said. A coworker told me that it was tradition to keep an axe in one's hurricane kit, in case you were trapped in your attic by rising water and had to chop your way out. I couldn't imagine that much water. My ex-husband and I never evacuated, instead we put a big board over the glass in our front door and drew a protective sigil on it.

Many of my former coworkers live in New Orleans-I hope they are safe. Reports are trickling in through our Intranet... Employees are still unaccounted for, but there's no way of knowing if that is because they are stranded or evacuated. I am hypnotized by the news, and can't stop watching clips of the damage. In one picture, I thought I saw a club I used to frequent, in another a familiar intersection. I think random thoughts like "What happened to all the animals at the zoo?" and "What about the crypts?" They are saying the French Quarter will be spared the greater damage, since it is above sea level (even if only by 5 feet). But I wonder how great will be the loss of the spirit of New Orleans after this?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Playing catch-up

Why do I feel like I am "falling behind" when I work on my trip pictures instead of my knitting? I feel like I am late for something, and have to hurry. How ridiculous!

In response to some of yesterday's comments:
Lara, No worries! I wasn't sick til I got home (perfect timing!)

Molly, I used two balls of Kersti (one for each wrister) and I just weighed the two leftover balls and had about 35gms... For J's mitts I used one full ball of Jo Sharp Aran Tweed and just enough of a second ball to finish the thumb on one mitt. I think they came out a bit short, so the second ball probably could have gotten more use.

(If there is any interest in the wrister/mittlette patterns, give me a shout and I can write them up.)

Ann, Your wish is my command... Here are the first 100 pics (of the first two days, can you believe it?)

I actually love something about every one of these shots: maybe a leaf shadow on water, or the outline of a branch against the sky or the "fall" colors of Alaska. Some of them are just reminders of my accomplishments on the trip. If you click on the "file info" button I have included as many factoids or notes about what I saw and learned as I could remember or google.

And here are some flowers and some mountains for Cara and Margene:


Kenai Foothills and Fireweed, Skilak Lake, Alaska

Monday, August 29, 2005

Ah Mondays, how I missed you.

Not.

I was sidelined for most of last week with a crummy chest cold. So my travel photo progress is not what I would like, but I do have several pics to liven up this post in the meantime.

But before all that, a couple of thank you's are in order. I received a fantastic little pressie from Jenifer over at cast on, cast off. She got my name in the stitch marker mania draw and sent me the following beautiful markers and a set of great knitting notecards. (Perfect for RAOKs, no?)



Each marker has an inspirational charm at the end, encouraging me to live, love, and laugh (and knit, of course). Perfect!

And while I didn't snap a pic, the most thoughtful Julie over at Stoneview sent me a pretty little origami crane over the weekend. Her RAOK came just as my coughing and sore throat were at their worst -- a well-timed mood brightener.

As far as Alaska goes...

For a view of my stash enhancements, check out Anatomy of a Stash.

While on the trip, I also started and finished two projects. The first I did on the flight over:


Mittlettes for me. (BTW, same dyelot, different colors!?)

And, Mittlettes for my intrepid tour guide, "Just J":


J kept us entertained with great stories, fun facts, and amazing views all week.

I used stash Koigu Kersti for my mitts and I bought some Jo Sharp Tweed Aran en route for J's. Both are my designs. (I tried to follow a pattern on the Kersti mitts, but I think there were too many mods in the end to be anything more than "inspired by" the original.)

Here is a pic from the trip:



This is me after climbing over 1500 ft in about a mile and a half. Wilted? You betcha-I still had 1500 ft to go! In the background is the impressive Exit Glacier.

What's a vacation without Sheep?!:


A Dall Sheep on the banks of the Savage River, Denali National Park.

I sat with a fellow traveller for about 15 minutes watching this little guy eat grass and salty dirt. Even though he was very close, he knew the crumbly, steep hillside kept him safe from us.

Here are some fun facts about Dall Sheep:
  • Their horns grow in Spring, Summer, and Fall - but not Winter. The stop-and-start growth creates ridges on the horns which can be counted like tree rings to determine the sheep's age. The sheep above doesn't have quite a full "turn" yet, so he is likely around 5 years old.
  • Coastal Native Alaskans call the sheep Imnaiq.
  • Dalls are North America's only all-white wild sheep.
  • Lambs weigh as little as 5lbs at birth and often fall prey to Golden Eagles.

I have two WIPs from the trip and a few hundred more photos to sort, so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Safe and nearly sound

I made it home! I don't have any pics uploaded yet, but here are few notes on my fantastic trip:
  • Bears: only one, and only for a second while he dashed across the road.
  • Whales: two kinds! A family pod of Orcas and a lone Humpback.
  • Eagles: Bald and Golden
  • Hikes: Almost every day, totaling 46 miles by the time I got home.
  • Glaciers: One by boat (Holgate) and one by land (Exit & Harding Ice Field)
  • Mountains: Beautiful!
  • Mosquitoes: Almost non-existent, I have a few really annoying bites on my hands and ankles, but that's it. Never even broke out the head net.
  • LYS: Far North Yarn Co (no website) in Anchorage. (You didn't think I would leave without yarn, didja?) I got some sock and scarf yarn in beautiful glacial colors.
  • Knitting: Yup! I Finished two pairs of mittletts (one was for my guide) and got halfway through a pair of socks. My flower basket shawl got ZERO work once the trip started: there was just too much to look at to bother with a chart.

Thank you for all the well-wishes and shout outs. I will post more later... I am still decompressing.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Huzzah!



Thank you all for the well wishes, I got them just in time! See you in a couple weeks.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

T-minus ALMOST!!!

ALASKAALASKAALASKA

Things to do while I am there:
  • Knit
  • Relax
  • Get a mountain picture (for Margene)
  • Snap some wildflowers (for Cara)
  • See a bear and a whale and an eagle
  • Hike and Ride and Raft

My phone line (and therefore my DSL) is out at home, so I may not be able to post after today. (So you may not know if I finished the sweater or not until I come back.)

Before I go here is one good thing and one bad thing:

The Good
I got my prize from Claudia's MS Raffle! Cara sent me a set of beautiful sheep and flower cards. And oh my, they are indeed lovely! I want to frame them all and keep every one for mememe.

I don't know which I like more, the sheep or the flowers. I am thinking the flowers will go in my bedroom, the sheep over my knitting.

The Bad
I am not going to name any names. But I purchased a pattern from an online source and I am very disappointed (yes, at least as much in myself as in the vendor).

The pattern is for a Stole. You can see a picture of the pattern here (this image is from one of several retailers offering the pattern, not from the one who sold it to me). Lovely looking thing, isn't it? It uses two balls of a wispy mohair blend, so I thought it would be a great pattern for the two balls of Kid Silk Haze I got for renewing my Rowan membership.

Now, I think I can safely quantify my disgust without breaking any copyright laws. The pattern goes something like this:

Using size X needles, cast on Y stitches. Knit in st until piece measures Z inches. Bind off.

Seriously. That's it. Five bucks. (The yarn apparently makes it look somehow cooler.) Does this even qualify as a pattern? Like I said, my disappointment is equally balanced between my own dorkiness ("A pattern? Crap, I better buy it! Someday there may not BE any more patterns!") and the vendor's ability to take money for this thing. Your thoughts?

I hope I can pop in once more before taking off, but if I can't, see you all in two weeks!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

T-minus 3!

Got the shoulder seams and the cuffs done. Tonight I will try to do the front and back seams.

Also got my Rx sunglasses on order and tonight is my last workout. I have done some packing, still need to get a few supplies.

Since I don't really have any of my own content today, here's some worth checking out elsewhere:

Brooks' Widow and Orphan sale going on now, perfect for those of you who can't make it to a show (or can't make it til the next one)... Thanks, Amy!

Coolest T-shirts ever. No knitting content, yet, but I know we could change that. Anyone out there who could submit a killah knit-T? (Link from Mighty Goods)

Need to waste some time? Here are some cute flash games. Warning! They can be stupidly, adorably addictive.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Stitch Marker Mania (and the Dolman is gettin' seamed)

I recently participated in now what niter's stitch marker swap.

I did not take pictures of the markers I sent off (I hope the recipients like them). But I did manage to snap the markers I have so far received.

First from Jennifer over at Piddleloop.com (her markers apparently arrived ages ago, but with my trips and classes, I hadn't gotten to my work mailbox in ages. Thanks so much, Jennifer! Sorry for the delay in posting.):


Can you tell how awesome the packaging is? They came in a little box with a ribbon and a piddleloop.com tag. And that card! Too cute...


And of course, inside was the loot! Beautiful turquoise glass, with a couple lagniappe sets for socks.

Then, just as I was leaving work yesterday I saw an envelope in my mail cubbie. I didn't get a picture of it, but it came all the way from Australia!

Inside were the follwing:


Three beautiful sets and a fantastic knitterly card.

Thanks for these go out to Jo in Australia. She didn't include a website, so I am not sure how to thank her other than to send word out in to the cyber-ether.

************************

Here was the Dolman at 7 pm:



And here is a reasonable facsimile of what it should look like when all is said and done.

By 9:30 I had only finished one shoulder seam and started the second. Backstitch is sure time consuming! I am hoping tonight to be able to finish that seam and get the garter cuffs done. This, of course, after my torture, er, training session with Mad Man Rob.

Any one care to lay odds on whether or not Dolman will be done in time for the trip? I mean, it's only finishing, right? But this is killer finishing!

Monday, August 08, 2005

T-minus 5 days and counting...

I leave for my trip on Saturday morning. I probably won't be posting after Thursday, however. I have never gone on a trip like this, and am perhaps over-planning it.

All of the pieces of the Dolman are finished. They are pinned out today and will be steam blocked tonight. I have decided to follow the pattern and put the shoulder seams on the outside. I hope it looks ok when I am done!

I am also pondering what knitting to take along. I would like to bring some lace and a pair of socks. Possibly a cable-scarf. Does this sound like way too much for 10 days? Too little? The flight to Alaska is like 14 hours with wait time.

As far as the lace goes, I am pretty committed to the Hanging Vines Stole in some laceweight from Handpaintedyarns.com. Has anyone tried this pattern? Any cautions or recommendations?

And now for something completely different
This weekend Lara and Sarah and I decided rather impulsively to go out on the town. We hopped the train and headed in to Chinatown for a bit of Moroccan dinnerandashow.

This was not a knitty meetup, but there may have been a bit of commuter-knitting goin' on:


Lara's wee hat and my Trekking sock #2

Marrakesh has a great 5 course prix fixe which is all eaten utensil-free. I found it to be much less messy than the Ethiopian I had many moons ago in Portland. While that was good food, I was going to a show after and was too full to dance or drink much (a definite turn off). So Moroccan gets a big thumbs up!

And half way through, we were treated to a bit of dancing.


She was ok, especially during the sword-balancing number, but she was a bit too modern compared to what we were expecting.

Dinner was a three-hour chat fest, and a much needed break. Here we are before going our separate ways on the red line.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Long Island Vacation part 2

Ok, so I may weigh my yarn on meat counters, but check out, if you will, Ann's microwave.



Your eyes do not deceive you! That is bread, being stashed, in the microwave. While I would like for this to demonstrate what a nut Ann is (compared to me and my crazy sock yarn business) all it really does is demonstrate what a great cook she is. Hello? She never uses her microwave to microwave stuff! You know what's in my microwave? Splatters. Hundreds and hundreds of splatters.

Not that anyone who had tried her food would argue about Ann's culinary skills. She is one of those people that can make the simplest things grand and the grandest things divine. I am only sad that I said I was trying to watch my weight, because that meant I was "spared" a sampling of her fine desserts. Thank god it was Kathleen's birthday! After all, "birthday" cake has half of the calories of "what the hell" cake.

While she was making the cake, Ann shared with us on of the secrets to fantastic desserts: fastidiousness! When Martha says the carrots should be shredded to a quarter inch... Ann makes sure they are!


This one makes the grade, only 97,684 left to check

Later that evening, after the cake was resting, I tried my hand at wrangling Proud Mary. I am mulling over the idea of getting a wheel at Rhinebeck this year, and wanted to try one out beforehand.

Here are the lumpy, kinky, over/under twisted fruits of my labor. What I can see in this skein is a vast improvement from the first half to the second. This is very encouraging.



Waking up Sunday morning I couldn't help but remember the day before: Ah yes. Lounging by the surf. Soaking up the rays. Forgetting to adequately sunblock.


One of my tats. A peacock, also my symbol for "air" ... others on my back include a goldfish (water), a dragon (fire), and a sort of lily (earth)

This pic doesn't even come close to the true color of the burn, which didn't bloom fully until Monday. I couldn't lift my arms above shoulder height, my bra was excruciating. I am still peeling. Don't forget plenty of sunblock!

Soon after, Kathleen and Nancy showed up for some swimming, noshing, and knitting. I don't know who couldn't have fun with this bunch! I think I ripped out the same 20 rows of the Dolman three times from missing increases amid all the great gabbing.


Super fun!

Unfortunately, within a couple of hours I had to cut and run. Nancy and I rode the train in to Penn together and then I hopped a train back to DC. Sorry to go, and much better for the visit.

Can I just say that knitbloggers are the absolute best? I had such fun with Ann, and it was only the second time we ever met (the first was for, like, an hour). Thanks again, Ann, for the hospitality and friendship!

Long Island Vacation!

This post is so ridiculously overdue. I had such a fun time at Ann's house, on the beach, and hanging with other cool and fun bloggers. You would think I'd'a rushed home to blab about it. But life is getting very weird around these parts. The times, as they say, are a-changing. That discussion is probably best left to my private journal, however. :)

So without further ado, let the blab of pics begin!

I took the train from DC to Penn at zero-dark thirty in the morning. I rode in the quiet car and learned the joy of training in near silence. It was around this time that I realized that the MIL2B's sock was going to turn out fit for a Sasquatch (sans cankles). So I worked on the Dolman and got quite a bit done.

Ann met me at Penn and our timing was fantastic, we waited about 10 minutes before getting a LI train out to her place.

We were dashed off from the train station by the fabulous Onslow. He is just as dashing in person! Wow! I have the biggest crush and may try driving again solely for the purpose of getting one of my own.

When we got to Ann's place I was floored. She is SO modest about her place on the blog, but I gotta tell you folks: it is LOVELY! She set me up in my room, and right away I felt safe and sound (after all, I had my own door guard).


Bridget and Nick keep watch

After snacks and much gabbing, we headed out to hot yoga. Whew! They ain't kidding about the hot, I was completely soaked within 15 minutes. And I still had over an hour to go. I held up pretty well, and had a great time. I had done an upper body workout the night before, and I think the yoga helped me avoid serious achiness.

After showering and dinner with the great Swine family (the Boar and Daughter's 1 & 2 are wonderful dining companions), Ann and I decided to catch a movie. And what better after hot yoga, but a cold-ass movie! We saw March of the Penguins, which was great, but damn if those birds aren't totally nuts.

Saturday was beach day. I had never been to the beach on the Atlantic Coast. (I don't think walking on the sand at 4 o'clock in the morning in Atlantic City counts.) First we had to stop by the inimitable Granny's for the elusive size 1 addiTs.


Granny's in Islip

As was previously mentioned, the 1s were out of stock. So I did what any self-respecting knitter would do and bought more yarn. Since I already had 2s, I just put the MIL2B's socks on holders and jumped on the Trekking XXL bandwagon. This stuff is gorgeous! (So much so, in fact, that I had to buy two skeins. I know, I have a problem.) After the beach fun, I had this:


Trekking XXL in Color 68 (I think, gotta check the band)

But, before I get to my craziness at Granny's, click here for a shot of Ann and something she can't get enough of...

Right. So the deli. I prefer to knit my socks in a certain way that helps me prevent SSS. I posted about it here. Based on my own rule, I would buy two skeins and call that good. Except the trekking comes in BIG skeins. And it is not super cheap. And I wanted two different colors. So I had to wind off half of a skein.

When I do this at home, I use my super cheap kitchen scale, and periodically weight the skein until I get to half (in this case 50 gms) and then snip! But I was far from home, and without my trusty scale, and Granny, oddly enough didn't have one floating around the shop.

I started to wind, all brave-like and got a good size cake on the winder. It looked sort of half-ish. Then Granny asked why I was winding backwards. Backwards? I had never heard of such a thing. I cut where the skein seemed to be half gone (my little OCD voice whimpered a little, "How do you know it's half??"), I put the tail of the remainder on the winder and started to wind in the other direction. The other direction produced a much looser cake. This means it was much bigger, and just before the end of the skein, I panicked and cut again. (OCD: "They don't look even close to the same size, how can you POSSIBLY be sure they are? What if the tight one is bigger and you do the first sock on that, and then on the second you run out of yarn?? Eeek!") Then I wound the pitiful little leftover into it's own cake. Crap. Three cakes.

I couldn't help but be a bit plaintive about not knowing how to split them up to get half and half. I tried to not mention it, really I did. I can't remember if it was Kathleen or Granny or Ann who mentioned that the deli across the street had a scale. We laughed about how funny it would be, weighing yarn on a meat scale and I was perhaps a bit too enthusiastic about it. Heh. Luckily Granny and Kathleen needed lunch, so we were going to the deli anyway. So, you know... I took the opportunity and just checked. Both of the larger cakes were almost exactly the same weight. Ann was briefly worried that I was going to need to re-wind the smaller one into two, but c'mon, I'm not crazy. That will be tucked away for heel or toe repairs.

After all that it was beach time!


From the Robert Moses Causeway


From the boardwalk

The beach was great. I think the last time I jumped in the ocean it was only the ocean-lite, and it wasn't nearly as fun as this. Can you believe I wasn't planning on getting in the water? What happened to me that I became so paralyzed by what I imagine other people might think of me? Thank god I was able to shake that feeling long enough to borrow a suit and jump in. We floated on waves, and I was briefly convinced that I had been stung by a jellyfish (that's what happened the last time I was at the beach). Luckily for us both, I was fine.

After too much sun and good times, it was time to head back and get to work on Kathleen's cake. I bid farewell to the ocean and took a parting shot of the lighthouse. Next time I am in the area, I am going to climb it, but this time, I was too tuckered out.


The Fire Island Lighthouse.

Tomorrow: Cakes, Ann's secret stash, the painful result of too much sun, spinning and more!

Monday, August 01, 2005

I'm so seriously, you guys

It's shameful really. I have so much to write. My great time at Ann's. Piece three of the dolman is done. Super fun MM-MM-MN (I am thinking there will be incriminating evidence here and here sometime soon).

But things are shaky over here at Chez Petits Mains. The electricity, both real and metaphorical just won't stay on... The super fun Alaska trip is starting to loom rather than hover on the horizon. (What is the physical law at work there?)

I am feeling overwhelmed.

This week, all of my bosses are out of the office. If there are no sudden transformer-destroying rainshowers maybe I can get some pictures loaded and up. Maybe with no one around I can catch up on some "office-keeping" (can you say "nearly 2000 emails in my inbox") Maybe I can practice breathing in and out with purpose. Maybe I can catch up on my frillion bloglines.