Thursday, June 30, 2005

Light My Fire

Today is hot. But I find myself not minding so much now that we have air conditioning. Imagine that. It’s 110 outside but only 76 inside, so I am comfortable. I only wish we had done this ages ago. Now if I could just convince Joe we need a pool….

Arizona is typically a nice place to live – no natural disasters, lots to do, pretty scenery. Unfortunately we had a large amount of ran this winter, and now all the dead grass is igniting and wreaking havoc. (no thanks to the smokers of the area who still think it’s okay to throw lit butts out their windows, but I digress.) I was driving up to my mom’s house the other afternoon and saw this:


I thought, hmmmm, it’s a little early for monsoons and it’s not supposed to get cloudy today. Then I realized that was SMOKE. The fires up in Carefree are so big you can see the smoke from all around the valley. A second fire to the west of us started yesterday and the smoke was so thick it blocked out the sun near my house. Incredible.

Where does the time go? I am so used to blogging every day and now that I have this little person to entertain I don’t get around to it. I can tell you I met Becky for some knitting on Tuesday. She was in the area and so I dropped by the Coffee Plantation for a visit. She looks great – rested and relaxed and much much happier. Here she is showing off a sweater she made for her nephew:


I dropped by SWTC yesterday on my way home from Julie’s and talked to Jonelle about my purses. She gave me some beads for the white one and I’m going to start putting beads on it this weekend. I think she liked the designs, now I just have to write up the patterns.

She was also working on the cutest little amulet bags made out of some type of crazy, soft and silky yarn with cool beads and buttons hanging off. I think she’s going to put pictures up on her blog later this week so go check it out.

Tonight is knitting at Changing Hands. Joe is coming home early so I can run down and knit for a spell. I probably won’t get there until 7:30 or so, but I’m sure there will still be people around. I can’t wait!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Designing Women

Some people have tons of creative energy to spread around. They create all day long and then sit down at night and create some more. I am a little different. When faced with a large creative challenge I pretty much stop everything else. If I am writing, I have to knit something plain with no decision making requirements. If I am knitting something difficult, I don't write. That is what happened to me last week.

I finished Mariposa and dropped it off at the SWTC warehouse on Thursday. I had Jack with me and he was in a foul mood, so I had to jet out of there. On the way home I got to thinking. Doesn’t Mariposa need a purse? It’s an extravagant shawl, meant for special occasions like weddings or fancy dances. Wouldn’t it be great to have a cute bag to match your shawl?

I emailed Jonelle and she thought it was a good idea. She offered to give me some yarn to complete my ideas.

On Friday the air conditioning guys were here from Chas Roberts all day. Seriously, they came at 8 and left at 6:30. I kept leaving and coming back because it was hot in the house without a/c and I couldn't just sit around and sweat all day. On my trip to get my yarn I started thinking about these purses I wanted to make and how I would construct them. Then I came home and started knitting.

I have never designed anything in my life. I can read a pattern. I can follow directions. But create something without knowing what will happen? It was scary and exciting and I loved every minute of it. I can't stop thinking about these purses, and even as I type I want to go back to my room and pick up my needles.

I knit on the red purse all weekend and today my mom helped me line it. The finished product is here:

red purse view 2

I wasn't sure if it was okay to post this picture since I'm still designing, but I consulted my personal intellectual property attorney and he assures me it is fine.

I love Southwest Trading Company. Not just because they have interesting yarn, but the people who work there are wonderful. They were unpacking a shipment of Karaoke on Friday and everyone there was in a jovial mood even though they had billions of boxes surrounding them and tons of work in their immediate future.

If you don't know what Karaoke is, allow me to show you my personal cone of it:


Here it is along with some black and white Bamboo and Shimmer that I am using to make more purses. Of course, digital photography does not do the yarn justice. It is beautiful. It is not like anything you've ever touched before. It is lofty yet thick. It is soft and weighty. The colors are blendy and smooth. I love this yarn. Alas, it will have to sit in my stash for a little longer while I work out the issues with my purses.

I have to take a moment to thank Jeff for watching our dogs and Gloria and Tom for watching our baby this weekend. Joe and I stayed at a lovely place called Sanctuary on Camelback Saturday night. What a wonderful time we had. It was relaxing and quiet and just beautiful. I forgot the camera, so you will have to believe me when I tell you it did not even resemble Phoenix. It was green and lush and wonderful.

Ok, back to the needles.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Sun Blocking

I realized I had missed one vital step in Mariposa – crochet the edge. Yikes. There are 308 stitches and the pattern called for 3 rows of single crochet. I’ve been furiously hooking away since Monday, and now Mariposa is officially done and blocking in the sun:


And here’s a close up of the edge so you can see my fancy crochet work:

blocking edge

I emailed Jonelle to ask about blocking and she said just to dunk it water and lie it out in the sun. Luckily it’s about 700 million degrees here today so it should be dry in no time flat. I’d like to drop it off on my way to pick up Jack this afternoon.

Gloria was nice enough to take him today while I meet with various air conditioning specialists and figure out how to make our house cooler. Unfortunately the answer is to buy a new air conditioner. Of course they are very busy with the weather such that it is (yes, it really was 116 here yesterday, Heather is not lying), but we played the baby card and are hoping to get it installed quickly. Keep your fingers crossed. (I’m sure Jeff is especially, given that he agreed to watch our dogs this weekend.)

I bought size 19 needles to test out on the Debbie Bliss yarn – we’ll see how my gauge is with them and hopefully get this new sweater started. Although sitting with a pile of yarn on my lap is not in the cards until the house cools off.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

Our dog sitter moved to New York, and Guido the Beagle has not been the same since. Here he is, pining away for PJS on the back of the couch:


We are going away this Saturday night and still have not secured a sitter for our wild beasts. The great thing about PJS is that he loved staying with the dogs as much as they loved having him. That is a tough act to follow.

Our dogs are overly coddled, I know this. They don’t go to kennels, they don’t stay home alone and have someone drop by to feed them, they really don’t like being left at all. If they have to be left, they’d better really really like the person or we will be punished upon our return.

So the search is on for a new dog sitter.

I can’t get too upset though, because I am going away! Going away! A night with no baby, no dogs, no laundry, no dishes! I can hardly contain my excitement. I am afraid, however, that Joe and I will sit across the dinner table from one another and have nothing to say other than “What do you think the little guy is up to?”

On the knitting front I finally finished Mariposa. It isn’t blocked – I sent Jonelle an email asking how I ought to block Bamboo. Full immersion? Spray bottle? Steam iron? The options are endless, and I really don’t know with this fiber what the best solution would be.

Here are some pictures. Yes, I’m in my pajamas, yes I look horrid. Deal with it and just look at the shawl please.

finished front

finished back 2

I learned a lot from this project. Namely, I am not a shawl person. I thought I would have trouble relinquishing this item back to SWTC because of the time and effort put into the piece, but I find myself relieved that it will be put to good use outside of my home. If I kept it I would feel obligated to wear it, and it’s just not my thing.

Secondly, I love to knit lace. I love the charts, I love the yarn-overs that make little holes, I love the repeats in the pattern that slowly unveil their beauty. I am going to have to find more lace projects in my future. Just not of the shawl variety.

The minute I finished weaving in all those little ends, I picked up my Debbie Bliss yarn and cast on my new project. I got this far:


and measured my gauge. I am two stitches off per 4 inches. I can’t believe it. There are supposed to be 8 stitches and I have 10. And I’m using size 17 needles for crying out loud. So I guess the next size is 19s? I’m afraid the yarn would be too holey at that level. What to do, what to do?

The next thing I'm sick of? My mom being gone in Hawaii. She doesn't even call me when she's gone, can you believe that? She must be too busy carrying on with those surfers, but don't tell my dad about that.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Cast On, Cast Off

First, I am almost done with Mariposa. Why am I not done? you may ask. I took a long pause yesterday when I realized something was wrong with my right side. Can you tell from the picture?


Since most of the people who comment on my blog don’t actually knit, I’m guessing you can’t tell what is wrong.

The sample on the right was cast on using a cable cast on. Why would I do that? It’s possibly going to ruin my ability to attach this piece to the entire shawl. I may have to start completely over.

But I am an optimist. I kept knitting. I stopped here, can you tell why?


Notice the inordinate number of strings hanging off such a small piece of knitting? If you look closely in the lower right you will see why. It’s a KNOT. And this is not the first knot in this ball of yarn, nor is it the second. Now, call me crazy, but three knots in a ball is a little excessive, no?

The question is, should I tell Jonelle? (For those of you who don’t know, she’s the owner of the company that sells this yarn. I’m doing this project as a sample for her.) I mean, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining or anything, but if I had purchased this yarn and found three knots right at the beginning I would be hopping mad.

I’m still hopping mad because I despise the process of weaving in ends and starting new yarn. So I stopped. But I have to continue because I can’t start my pink sweater until this is finished. Sigh.

As far as things I’m sick of, I will show you my list if you show my yours. We’re all sick of something aren’t we?

So you already know I’m sick of people making over-generalizations about the legal profession, here’s one more.

I’m sick of being fat. My belly looks like bread dough and my butt is the size of Texas.

That’s all for now dear readers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

what a mood....

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t blog yesterday. I don’t know how you all do it, but I keep a word document open at all times where I write different things down before actually publishing. Once I have pictures ready I usually have enough words to get a decent size post.

I wasn’t in the best of moods yesterday – Joe being gone, a certain unnamed friend refusing to return my phone calls (he has since been forgiven, so all is well), a headache, and this unbearable heat were all getting to me. Today is better – a good nights sleep will do wonders for a girl. I pulled up my document to start my blog for the day and found a list of things that make me mad. It’s called the I’M SICK OF IT list.

Whew. That was one nasty mood.

Fortunately, today I am all sunshine and happiness. Well, not completely. I do have to say I AM SICK TO DEATH of people and their strange attitudes about lawyers. If you took your jokes or your rants and diatribes about lawyers and replaced the word with an ethnic group, or women, or a religious group you would have people screaming to the rafters that you were making overgeneralizations, you were a bigot, you were racist, sexist. Get a grip people. There are millions of lawyers in the world. Not all of them are perpetuating some perceived cycle of evil.

Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Feel free to comment – the blog hasn’t had controversy in a while now so we’re about due for another spirited discussion.

Ok, moving on to more important matters. I finished the left side of Mariposa. Here it is posing with my pink yarn on the coffee table:

left side

That green yarn on the right is a washcloth I attempted to make without a pattern. I have since learned there are a few errors so it needs to be pulled out and redone. My coffee table seems to have become my knitting showcase table for the time being.

I got the needles for my new pattern, but I am forcing myself to finish Mariposa first. Jonelle will be back from that needle arts extravaganza soon and I want to take this shawl to her finally. (yikes. i just looked on her blog to do her link and she's back already. darn. i'd better get moving.)

Joe is gone, Jack is asleep so it’s just me and my knitting needles for the rest of the night. Oh, and a small bottle of red wine……

Monday, June 13, 2005

Grass in the Desert

As Squareslant mentioned in the comments, Phoenix often looks less-than-green. So here are two pictures showing a bit of greenery. This is our front yard:


Not overly green, but not bad either. And here is a shot down the street:


Palm trees do very well here, but there are also lots of other trees that stay green all summer. We’re lucky to live in a very mature neighborhood – our house was built in 1935 so there are big trees to provide shade. But as I said, a lot of money is spent to keep these lawns and trees alive.

On the knitting front I am slowly progressing with the Mariposa front. More importantly I made a difficult and painful decision regarding this sweater:


Remember this? It’s made from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky. I cast it on in December and I realized a few things this past week.

1. I am not longer a “small” when it comes to sweaters, thanks to Jack. I don’t know if my smallness will ever return, but I would hate to have a beautiful sweater I could never wear.

2. Rebecca patterns are horrible. I hated every minute of trying to decipher this pattern and it made the knitting less enjoyable.

3. I made a mistake in the increases.

4. After so long, it was virtually impossible to figure out where I was in the pattern.

Because of these reasons, I made the decision to rip it out. Here is the final result:


I love this yarn so much, and I needed to find a suitable pattern that will carry me through my varied chest size. A cardigan or jacket seemed the best solution, but pattern shopping is not my forte. It’s hard for me to match gauge if I already have the yarn. Luckily for me though, my mom was wanting to see the babe yesterday and Jessica’s is right around the corner. While he napped I headed over to see what I could see.

Part of my problem is that I don’t like Debbie Bliss adult patterns for the most part. I looked at a Rowan book that had some cute stuff in the same gauge, but I would have to buy two more balls of yarn at least. She still had my dye lot, but that’s another $32 out the window. I pressed on, chatting with Emily and the new girl (sorry, I can’t remember her name). Jessica actually took the day off, which I think is great, but I was sorry to have missed her. Anyhow, I finally came up with this:


It’s a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern so I know it will be easy and I can modify it if I so choose. The bad news is about needles. I didn’t check the pattern and left without buying size 17s. Darn it. I might try to get to Michaels today and see if they have what I need so I can get it started. Not that I need another project on needles, but still.

We did go to Postino Friday but no one showed up. I had lunch with my mom and Potusol, and then we waited around for about 20 minutes. Since no one came I went home and took a nap. It was lovely.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Spontaneous Tomato

When we lived in Northern California and I grew a wonderful vegetable garden. I loved it – things just grew when you put them in the ground. My tomatoes were huge and happy. Here is what the garden looked like two years ago:

tomato 2

The growing season in Arizona is quite different. We have two short growing seasons on either side of summer, so we can’t grow things that take a long time to ‘hatch’. So imagine my surprise today when I saw this growing in our yard with no prompting from me:


No, it is not marijuana. It is one small tomato. Who knows what kind, but it’s there. I soaked it with the hose and when it gets hotter I will put up a shade. I am amazed. I know not what to say.

I’ve reached another standstill with Mariposa. I am supposed to pick up and knit along the front edge to create the wrap part of the shawl. I am horrible at picking up and knitting – the numbers never work out for me. I have tried 6 times to no avail. I picked up another lace project while I thought about it, because just staring into space wasn’t working. I had a small knitting epiphany. I am going to knit the front separate and sew it on when I’m done. I am monumentally more skilled at seaming, so this is the only solution. Wish me luck.

Thanks to Parley and Jeff for sharing their thoughts about being picked on as a kid. I know I cannot shield Jack from every evil in the universe, but it’s interesting to hear some ideas about how kids develop. It seems that even the best intentions can mess with a kid’s head.

Tomorrow is knitting at Postino’s at 2. This is a lovely little wine bar in Arcadia and they have $5 glasses of wine before 3. Plus the bruchetta is amazing. I may go early to eat if anyone is interested.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Fitting In

A friend of mine and I were talking the other day about how badly we want our kids to fit in when they go to school. We are both in a constant state of worry that our children will be made fun of, picked on, teased. I worry because Jack's ears will stick out, he will be too smart and mouthy for his own good, and (this is the worst of my fears) he's so cute now I'm worried his looks have already peaked and he'll get uglier as he gets older. (I can't believe I just admitted that in public.)

That being said, I also don't want him to be so popular that he's not forced to develop a personality. Or that he's mean to other kids. I was mean to Brian Starfield in grade school – I was so mad that I ALWAYS had to sit next to him because our last names were the same, and he was always growing warts and showing them to me.

I know some of my faithful readers out there look back upon their childhoods with dread. The constant harassment, the rock throwing, the taunts from evil kids. So I wonder. Could your parents have even done anything to make you less of a target? If so, what?

How much of your personality is just there and how much is influenced by your parents? This thought perplexes me daily. If you're shy, for example, are you just shy? Or did your parents make you that way by parenting you in a specific way?

Enough of my obsessing. I went knitting last night with some lovely ladies down at Changing Hands. Here are a few pictures:

knitters 3

knitters 2

kim 2

In that last one Kim is trying to figure out the cord for another Knitkit bag. I swear that pattern is written in code. I've made it once and helped my mom with it once and I still don't get it. There has to be an easier way to make handles.

I was looking around for good summer knits and I found this Ribby Shell, brought to you by the same person who designed Ribby Cardi. I'm going to make it out of Knitpicks Shine, so the entire thing will cost $16. I can't wait!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mariposa Back Finished!

I know everyone is wondering what I bought at Jeff’s garage sale. Rather than keep you in suspense, here is a picture:


Those dishes are enamel, and will be used on my new patio if it ever gets completed. and the table will go by my bed along with another exactly like it.

And Richard is not lying, he is a big softy for babies. Don’t be fooled ladies and gentlemen. Any man who loves babies that much has to be a nice person.

In knitting news I have finished the back of Mariposa. All this napping for Jack is giving me tons more knitting time. Here it is:

finished back

and a shot of the ribbing at the top, because I did a new fancy cast off that is supposed to match the ribbing. With this yarn I don’t think it mattered so much but it was interesting. It reminded me of the kitchner stitch used for sock toes.


Now I just have to figure out the front and I will finally be done. I would have done this last night, but the first episode of the final season of Six Feet Under was on. I was riveted. I could knit, not even on my seed stitch swatch. I just stared at the screen with my mouth slightly open and did not knit a stitch.

Luckily, I will be going to knitting tonight! Joe is coming home a bit early so I can head over to Changing Hands and visit with all my knitterly friends. AND I don’t have to bring the baby. It will be like a vacation. Hope to see you all there.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Garage sale day

We bought a new sleeping book this week, so our new schedule is a bit wacky. This morning to help with the time between naps we took Jack over to visit Jeff's "Farewell to PJS" Sale. He made a pretty penny, some of it from us if you can believe it. The items we purchased are still in the car, along with the tv PJS gave me. Hopefully sometime this week I can assimilate them into the homestead.

The most surprising event of the morning was when we saw Richard. Joe got Jack out of the car and Richard had his arms out to hold him (Jack, not Joe) before they even crossed the street. He was so excited and thinks Jack is very cute. They entertained one another while we argued with Jeff over price gouging.

Here they are sunning themselves in the front yard:

yard sale 2

and later sitting on the steps admiring the flowers:

yard sale 1

As you can see, the apartment next to Jeff is for rent. I highly recommend it if you're looking for somewhere to live alone.

My knitting class went well yesterday, but there was only one student. She was very nice and actually already knew how to knit, so we got her started on a project. Next week I'm going to teach her a bunch of different stitches, like ribbing, seed stitch and how to make a dropped stitch scarf. It was fun.

I also finally found the perfect yarn for my master knitter swatches. I know it's 100% acrylic, but it is much more forgiving than the other yarns I've tried. It's Carron Super Soft and is quite true to its name. Very nice to knit up and only $1.99 with my discount. Not bad. I completed the first two swatches:

2 swatches

In the picture you can see the cute new coaster's Kim gave me as a birthday gift along with a yummy bottle of wine. And Jen bought me lunch – so my birthday is now extending into June! We had a nice time knitting and sipping wine. Sometimes it's good to be away from my little bundle of joy for a bit.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Knitting and Wine tomorrow

Jen and I are meeting at My Wine Celler tomorrow around noon for lunch, wine and knitting. If you don't knit (that means you, Jeff) you're welcome to just come and hang out with us.

Template finished

Ok, I think I'm done monkeying around with the template for the time being. Paula and Heather, I added you. If there is anyone else I forgot please let me know. I fixed the comments so they don't automatically show up, and I've adjusted the overall look a bit.

I finally got a pedicure yesterday. For those of you who live elsewhere this may seem like a strange indulgence, but trust me it is necessary in the dry desert. My feet looked awful. The girl who painted them suggested a French manicure – I've never had one so I thought I'd give it a try. Here they are:


Fun huh?

On Monday I met some great knitters at Duck and Decanter. I brought along Mariposa because I hit a big road block and I find it's easier to tackle knitting crises with friends and wine around. Luckily it was not as bad as I'd imagined and Jen happily set me straight. We had a new knitter Diane (I don’t think she has a blog). I was going all prepared to teach her to knit and she was way ahead of me – probably 30 rows into her first garter stitch scarf. And she was using Manos which is even better.

So the Mariposa is growing – I'm almost done with the shawl part. Here is a shot of the entire thing:

last repeat

(and please notice that the coffee table is STILL clean)

A close-up of the lace pattern:


Tomorrow I start teaching my new class of knitters! Gloria is taking Jack for the entire day so I'm going to be like a regular girl for a few hours. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

It's not perfect

Welcome to my new template. It's still a work in progress ( I can't believe how much time this takes!), but I like the colors and the layout.

I've made a few changes to my sidebar. If your link is removed it's either because a)I messed up, b)I don't really read your blog and you don't read mine, c) You never post on your blog. I made 2 exceptions to c - Natala and Jen. Neither one of them EVER posts, but I still link to them in hopes they will come around. (I just realized a few I forgot, so after I post this I will run off and fix that error.)

Pictures and more later. I'm off to have a pedicure....