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Knitting in the Shadows
Tuesday, 10 January 2006
Sheets and Pipes and Socks
Topic: Knitting
I've discovered something wonderful!
You know that marvelous yarn made out of Bamboo -- how luxurious and silky and soft it is? Well some wise person took to weaving with it ... on what is undoubtedly an enormous loom ... and made sheets out of it! Yes! It's true! You can now buy Bamboo Sheets. They're divine! Ask me how I know...

Ask me whether I'm thinking of just returning the 600 count sheets I bought to spoil myself the same day I bought these? YES, because I can't imagine that they feel any better than these, much less twice as good (which they'd have to, to justify paying twice the cost).

And someone please point out to me that buying one set in every color would really be a violation of the GCop program! The first set of sheets would not be -- they were just replacements: DH somehow managed to make a wee tear in the old (yes OLD... so old they were due for replacement anyway) sheet, and then failed to point it out until he'd torn a HUGE hole... I should have photographed it.

I DID manage to get the full 100 items gone plus some by the end of last weekend, despite fighting migraines and shopping for sheets.

In further damaged to GCOP, I bought my new blocking tools:

Note the door ... it's there for size comparison with the PVC pipes that run up past the ceiling.

Yeppir, I bought two ten foot lengths of PVC pipe, and some joints:

Clearly, I'm not doing as well as one might with Getting Stuff OFF the property... but these will be cut to size (with spare bits for future items) and joined appropriately to form perfect stretcher bars for blocking the Celtic Shawls. I'll run a bit of light string through the edges, and then use more string to lace the stuff to the pipes, and then stretch..... Sounds fun eh?

Sounds much more fun than last night's discovery of the mistake I made in the JayCrossWalker socks. We will not discuss that since I made that mistake, I not only finished the heel flap, but turned the heel and finished off the gusset. ahem.

In rebellion, I started sock 2. Of course, the first thing I did there was to cast on not one, not two, but eight too many stitches. I figured that out after I had knit the inch of ribbing and started the pattern stitch, at which point it became ... shall we say .. obvious?? I've fixed that now, and am re-doing that lovely k2p2 rib in a more appropriate number of stitches.

As for sock one, I've decided to put it to the BlogReader test. If you all can see and identify my mistake (which right now is driving ME nuts), I'll frog back, and do it right. If not... I'll try to talk myself into living with it.

Have a closer look:

So.. Today's report
G-COP - Added several items, Disposed of none since Sunday
Socks - aren't winning yet, but...

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 3:56 PM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink
Secret Pal Stuff --
I'm now a member of a Secret Pal group ... This means two things: 1) I get to create secret pal boxes to ship away to make someone's day brighter... and
2) someone will be sending me fun stuff!

In order to participate, we all have to fill out this lovely questionnaire. Like a Meme, in a way... only we don't get to tag anyone with it.

So....While I plot the fun things to give my new pal... you get to read still more information about me me me than anyone needs.

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand?

I am a bit of a yarn snob. I eschew Red Heart ack-rylic, but have been known to use some Lion Brand yarns quite happily.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

Well... I have spun. I have wheels. They're sorely neglected. I also have far more fiber in the stash to spin than I could spin in a long time ... so more won't be necessary.

I once crocheted A LOT... but now, I pretty much stick to knitting.

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

Two three ring binders with a clear plastic pencil cases ... one for each size of course. One binder holds circulars and the other holds dpns. I never use straights (they make my wrists sore).

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

Long story? or short one? I think I get to give the long one in a few questions, so for now...

I've been knitting somewhat seriously for about 10 years. I alter patterns at will, and have designed several (socks, a vest, kids' sweaters....)

I'd guess I qualify as advanced intermediate -- maybe advanced .. I've taught advanced intermediate, but still... there's stuff left to learn!

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Why yes, I do! And I'll be happy to go generate more

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

ONE scent? are you nuts??
When I yield to temptation and buy Party Lite candles, I invariably buy half a dozen scents because I can't CHOOSE! But, if anyone has any PartyLite pillar or ball candles in Starry Night (a long discontinued scent) I'd give up cashmere to get more...

Oh, wait, you wanted a real answer didn't you?
It depends so much on season and stuff. Generally, I like spicy and/or spicy floral and don't' like fruity (well, except maybe citrusy). I don't like sweet smells -- well except for frangipani. I do like Patchouli (unlike some people) and sandalwood. I like lavender, but not too much.

I love the smell of fresh coffee (but find that if it's on a Bunn, it smells burnt in minutes) and the smell of leather.... but not as candles or perfume.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

yes. I may not like sweet smells, but ...
My favorite candy is rich DARK chocolate. Milk chocolate is only okay, and white chocolate is a complete waste of time... but dark chocolate... yummmmmmm

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?

well.... um... there are many that I have done (like cross stitch, and sewing) that I don't do now. I still crochet now and then.

I own a wheel and a table loom, and pretend that I will once again spin, and that I will learn to weave.

Mostly , though, I knit, and read, and blog...

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

Yes. and yes.
Oh, wait, that's not very helpful.
I do NOT like grunge rock or "head banging" stuff.
I do like classical, particularly Baroque and Romantic periods, but I'm not much on Stravinsky or modern;
I like Country (and western);
I love Celtic music;
I like soft rock, but NOT "Easy Listening"
I like "Classic Rock", 70's and 80's rock, but not really 50's or 60's;
I like some New Age, and most show tunes;
I'm fond of Big Band Style Jazz, some folk....
I'm not fond of opera..... unless I'm THERE

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I'm a "Winter" I favor rich jewel tones, and gravitate toward purple (though lately rich deep reds have been calling me). I also love rich blues and greens, fuschias.... I also like pink, and lavender, must not mint green.

I look like I died in anything yellow based, and thus tend NOT to like yellows or oranges (or lime green), unless they're flashes of contrast.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I'm married, have two daughters (8 & 10) and a step daughter, two cats, a dog, and a bunch of koi and goldfish in the pond.

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I wear shawls and mittens, but not scarves and rarely hats. When I first started on this I didn't know about ponchos, but having recently received one -- yes. I DO (surprise face).

I'd like a hat or some other head covering that manages not to smash my hair...I'm still looking

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

Most recently - Elann's Peruvian Highlands's Alpaca Silk .... ahhhhhh

Generally, soft things .. merino, merino/silk blends, alpaca blends,

I like koigu (is there anyone who doesn't?)

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

MOHAIR! itch! sneeze! ick

I'm also not much fond of or wools, as they tend to feel scratchy to me.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

quick things that give me Feelings of Accomplishment right smartly; shawls that let me feel proud of my accomplishments; someone else's Well Written Pattern so I can blindly follow along; my own designs so I can figure them out as I go along...

17. What are you knitting right now?

Well.... what a very good question!
I've just F'd some O's.... and so I'm swatching and working on longstanding things.

I am working on the second of a pair of matching shawls, plotting for OLYMPIC KNITTING, and have a pair of wrist warmers on the needles for mindless work.

I'm plotting a Rogue, or that riding jacket in Loop D Loop (a book which I otherwise have little use for)

A sweater for DH is languishing in the WIP basket next to the Pre-Columbian Shawl (Intarsia, warm yummy). Those are the most active of the long list of WIPs and UFOs

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

yes. (well, if they're made well....)

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?

Circular! Absolutely. Wrists can't take straights

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

What's the yarn? what's the project?

Bamboo, birch, rosewood, casein, alumium....
I guess Bamboo is the top, though that's not what I have most of

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?


22. How did you learn to knit?

Super short version: My stepfather's mother taught me garter stitch. I'm not sure if she also taught me to purl. The rest of the basics came from books.

And now, the rest of the story:

I learned when I was 11 (from my stepfather's wonderful mother Dot). I knit the most amazing, ack-rylic purple scarf for my father. The edges were very special -- it had a charming waving edge all along both sides, caused no doubt by random addition and loss of stitches. That scarf still lives, and warms my dear step-mom's neck when she's out walking in the woods.

Then I stopped. In early college, I knit a "bed jacket". After law-school, I tried again, and went to my first ever real yarn store, where I discovered all sorts of fibers... including a shiny rayon ribbony thing and mohair. I bought a bunch to make an intarsia sweater -- . I learned intarsia. I fought every single stitch... I hated it. I made a deal with a friend ... she'd knit my sweater, I'd crochet her a large lacy doily. No clue what she wanted the doily for. Once the sweater was done, I learned that I can't wear mohair.

Then I visited a cousin who had just finished knitting something, and I decided to try one more time. The rest is history -- I found the Knit List, I joined TKGA and went to conferences, I bought ALL of the Knitters magazines...

I took the CYCA courses on teaching knitting, and briefly served as Knitting Guru at Flying Colors before I moved from the Chicago area.

meanwhile, I'm still learning...

23. How old is your oldest UFO?

er... that would take digging through the UFOs to find out! I've no clue. Years.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

Tinkerbell, Stitch in attitude sometimes, but I own no Stitch stuff, ...cats, dragons, falcons, wolves, and of course lambs!

25. What is your favorite holiday?

um.... can I get back to you on that? I dunno....

26. Is there anything that you collect?

Books! Yarn!

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Knitters, Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, INKnitting, Cast On, (working on ridding myself of Simple Knits), and whatever Knitters Digest turned into. Also, Twist and Turns(Janet Szabo's lovely periodical).

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?

The perfect Rogue yarn -- I've been swatching and rejecting for MONTHS! Everything's the wrong blankety blank gauge!

As for books... I'll post em on Amazon's wish list.

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Better blocking ... especially for shawls

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes ... my recent encounters with Jay Crosswalker and the Guitar Sox notwithstanding.

Ankle at top of cuff: 11 1/8"
Ankle at the top of the heel flap: 9"
Happiest heel flap length: ~ 3"
Big Toe to heel turn: 9"
Baby Toe to heel turn: 7 1/8"
Instep circumference just in front of heel: 10"
Arch circumference 9 3/8"
Ball of foot circumference: 9 1/8"

I have fairly narrow heels, but a high instep....

All that detail said: The last basic size 7 1/2 sock someone made for me fits fine...

31. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

October 20

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 8:17 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006 5:48 PM CST
Saturday, 7 January 2006
And so begins the G-COP program

I Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 8/8 correct!

Could You Pass 8th Grade Science?

Cleaning Out - or The G-Cop Program
The folks on one of my lists are trying a sort of clean out along. Sort of. Anyway, THEIR plan is to round up 50 items a day for seven days, and each day get those 50 items OUT Of the house (throw it away, give it away, sell it, donate it, burn it in a pyre in the yard ... whatever). Ages ago, a friend of mine was on a similar long term clean out program that she called the G-COP program (Get the Crap Off the Property).

I still think this is a great idea, but recognized that I couldn't start when they did (my folks were still here... some how a clean out starting on the day before they're due to leave seemed, well... rude.

And I didn't count them as two items (or four contains suitcases) when they left either.

But, that next day I did round up 25 items. I figured that what with work and kids and gift-knitting (yes still ongoing -- remember those shawls??), I'd never get 50 items a day. I was pretty sure that 25 items a day was beyond my scope... but perhaps I could stretch mine to a 6 or 7 WEEK program, and go for 50-100 items a week.

So today I tackled the dreaded bathroom cabinet and drawer. It was no where near as threatening as my desk.

I THREW AWAY 94 items! Yep, it'd been awhile. There was only one old prescription, but there were other things with expiration dates on them. And just how many bottles of nail polish remover does one woman need? Especially a woman who doesn't wear nail polish that often?

I also found some stuff my SD might like, which I'll likely hold for her ... maybe. Maybe I'll get all intense and pitch 'em anyway.

If I could tolerate DH's whining about it, I could likely pitch another 50 by just emptying the soap drawer. He CANNOT go to a hotel without bringing home a hotel soap for every day he spends there. He'll use one, but stick all extras in his suitcase. When the maid service refills the bathroom, he packs the soap (and shampoo, and ...). I managed to pitch all the old shampoos when we moved here-- he has so little hair it's pointless, and I'm picky about my shampoo -- but he insisted on packing the soap. I haven't bought soap in years.

That was easy. It was pretty much a binary question for each item: Keep? or throw away? There were a few "What's this doing in HERE?" things, that I've since relocated to their proper homes. That ball of yarn for example?

The desk... now the desk is more challenging.

You may recall when I moved my "office" into this space. The desk looked like this:

Now it's encircled with... well.... stuff

And to make all of that crap .. garbage stuff go away, or at least stop lurking around the edges of the desk, each item will likely have to undergo a veritable litany of evaluations:

A few will clearly be trash. So the "can I just pitch this?" question will get asked. But once we've gotten past that part, each freakin' piece of paper will need to be fully evaluated.

Do I need to take action on this item? (pay the bill)
Must it be done NOW (due date, Monday), or can it wait?
Once I've taken action, what next? Pitch? File?

If no action needs to be taken, can I just chuck the paper? or must I keep this paper anyway?
If I Have to file it, where? Is this a tax related piece of paper?

If this is art or school work from one of the kids, is this REALLY a keeper? or just one I've held onto b/c at the time it was important to the child that I receive it?

If it's not an action item or a file item, is it a "supplies" item? If so, do I really need to keep this one? (How many manilla folders do I need to store?)

Is it a catalog? current? is there a chance I'll buy something form it? (this, of courses, means I have to stop and flip through all the pages).

I'm tired just thinking about it.

But I did bring up an empty box for the massive stack of recycle-able paper I hope to amass. I'm wishing I could just pitch it all, but I'm pretty sure there's an issue of Knitters in there ... and mayb ethe handout from that Latvian Mitens class.....

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 12:01 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 8 January 2006 11:05 AM CST
Thursday, 5 January 2006
These Socks are Cursed
I was, merrily Jaywalking along, when it happened again! And this time, I was KNITTING when it happened...

What you see before you is another snapped Brittany.

As I'm sure you can well imagine, I am not a happy camper here. I'm also a bit miffed that the picture shows up much pinkier/purplier than the socks do. What's up with that?

I'm blaming this particular break on the double decreases, but golly, they don't put that much stress on the needles, do they??

I thought all was lost. That the Jaywalkers would be sidelined again while I waited for delivery of a shipment of a new set of Brittany 2.25 mm needles.
Elizabeth to the rescue!
My dear, wonderful "bestest friend ever", who remains blogless, has saved the day again!

She leant me these:

Size 1 Brittanies. Isn't she wonderful??? Now I don't have to switch to metal needles!

Perhaps if I start calling them Crosswalkers it will confuse the curse...

Meanwhile, I've since been able to calm myself enough get a picture of the impending ankle adaptation I'm making:

Note that wee bit of ribbing there? That's for ankle fitting. I find that ribbing at the back of my ankle, before the heel flap, is very comfy -- and let's my socks fit my [ahem] lovely slender ankles without causing problems with my irksome high instep...

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 8:43 PM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006 11:23 PM CST
Wednesday, 4 January 2006
A is for Anna and Arches! and Abalone
A is for Anna

Anna is was is my paternal grandmother. Today is was is her birthday. She would have been 104 today had she not died in the spring of 1997.

Anna was an extraordinary scrabble player despite having "only" an 8th grade education. She regularly whupped not only my butt, but also my father's (PhD in Physics who likes to do the New York Times Crossword Puzzle) and my "wicked-evil-stepmother"'s (PhD in French Literature who is one of the most delightful and bright women I've known).

Anna was also a fine bridge player, but didn't take bridge nearly as seriously as we all took Scrabble.

Anna was firm but gentle and loving beyond measure. She taught Sunday school until she was about 92, and turned to the Bible to help her solve her problems. But she never forced her Bible on anyone who wasn't interested or ready. She believed in God with an open heart that seemed to have plenty of room for folks who followed other paths.

She also made a mean fig preserve from the figs we picked from the tree in her yard. I fear that Katrina ripped that tree down...

She thought I didn't swear.

Anna brought me to yarn. She crocheted more afghans than I can count. So many of them so lovely, that I can turn a blind eye to the unfortunate number of Sunbonnet Sue refrigerator magnets she made when afghans grew too large. She taught me to crochet, and didn't bat an eye when, having learned and made my first square, I declared that I was going to make a ripple afghan next.... she took me to the store to buy yarn. You're saved from a picture of that bit of artistry in 70's shades of orange, as I finally donated it after about 20 years of dragging it from place to place.

I have an exquisite full sized bed coverlet she crocheted in thread....

She kept, and then gave to me, her grandmother's thread crochet hook. It was many years before I felt I'd earned the right to actually use it.

But mostly... mostly... Anna smiled, and loved, and laughed. I miss her still

A is also for Abalone

Abalone is a fun game I bought for myself and my secretary ... We've just started our first game... and we're playing it sort of like long distance chess. Each of us takes a turn, and then puts up a wee sign to tell the other person it's her turn. It lives on a table in my office. Whenever we have time, we pause to ponder the board.

Abalone brings a bit of levity to the day.

There's even an online version, if you'd like to try if for yourself.

A is also for Aggravating

I bought this lovely yarn:

When we were in the store (Needlework's), this yarn told me it wanted to be Jay's hat.


Now that I've gotten hit home, cast on an appropriate number of stitches, and started to knit, it's clearly saying that it refuses to be a hat.

Not for Jay (who did ask for yellow) ...

not for anyone.

Now that I've spent all this money on fancy schmancy cashmere/merino/micorfiber... it's starting to say things like "baby sweater".


Is it insane?

It got me to knit up a nice wee hem, join the hem even, and now it's murmuring baby sweater at me?
No one in her right mind knits a pullover for a baby -- babies hate pullovers. They don't like that pulling over part. Besides, you have to make the neck so big to get it over the wee bairn's head that it gapes at the neck ....


Baby sweater indeed.

Perhaps if I knit a few more rounds it will change its mind?

A is also for Arches --

Ever notice how many Arches there are around you? Here are just a few of the Arches I see as I walk from my office to my car:


There are even some crafty arched windows, through which you can see still more arches on the other side:

And then there are more arches within arches.. whose beauty is withheld from those of us on the outside looking in:

There are Famous Arches around the world:

The Arch of Constantine

the Arch of Titus

Mezquita Arches

and other Cathedral type arches:

Amiens Cathedral

Giotto's Chancel arches

Dunkfeld Cathedral's arches

Wells Cathedral's Retrochoir

Natural Arches


and even fanciful arches

I don't know about you, but I've even got arches in my house

Why do we care? Because arches help us build strong buildings with wider open spaces than we could otherwise.
Besides, they're beautiful!

They even used arches in knitting patterns now and then... What's YOUR favorite?

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 5:44 PM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006 10:05 PM CST

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