The last of the red yarn...

January 28, 2005

My hands (particularly the right) have been freezing lately. It's been in the 50's here (no New England-style snow storms for us, sadly) so the weather obviously isn't the reason. My hunch is that the culprit is a combo of knitting and mousing, and since neither of those activities seem optional, I came up with a design for fingerless mitts so that I can carry on with warm fingers. It's based on the ragged old church mitten pattern I've been using since middle school (which feels like it was printed on cloth, the paper is so worn) and a trio of lace patterns from my new favourite knitting reference. I used a double eyelet rib for the underside of the arm, scattered double eyelets for the palm, and a fern lace panel for the back of the hand and arm. Below, pictures of the right mitt blocking and being worn (I'm really not a left-handed photographer, sorry that it's blurry!):

The yarn is the remnants of the Barn Red Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece that I used for my hat and scarf set. This yarn has a storied past: I bought it in Boston after the first snowstorm, finished the hat, then started the scarf. On #5s, it took the better part of a year to finish and was the project that saw the Patriots through their Superbowl Championship, the Sox through their delightful season and series, and the Eagles & Pats through their stellar early seasons this fall. I brought these gloves (worked in the same yarn) to a friend's place for the games on Sunday, and (not to claim credit) saw AFC and NFC wins for the Eagles and Patriots. Now I have to quickly finish the gloves before the Superbowl so that the yarn stays lucky -- no matter what, it'll chalk a loss for one of the teams if I'm still working with it. :-P
(Note: I grew up in New England but didn't start watching football until Eagles-obsessed Kevin made me... the upcoming game is something of a conflict of interests.)

(The needle is pointing to the unintentional backwards cable from the final out when the Red Sox won the series. That mistake stayed in as a testament.)

And with that, enough sports superstition for one day.
It's looking like I won't have quite enough yarn to finish the second glove -- I'm starting the thumb increases now, but the mess of yarn is dwindling. I'm debating between unmatched gloves or pirating yarn from the overly-long right hand -- we'll have to see how far the bit that's left stretches.

Finally some knitting

January 24, 2005

Alison of the blue blog fame is hosting a fix-a-thon knit-along for February.

The Blue Blog - February Fix-a-Thon

I don't have any knitting of my own to go back and rework. (This isn't a sign of knitting perfection as much as my slooow progress -- if you don't make a lot, there isn't much to go back and fix.) Instead, I have two store-bought sweaters that have been irking me. One's the lovely J. Crew one with the unfortunate pleated shoulders that I ripped out way back in October. I would love to get this finished.

The second, which I just attacked and finished as a show of good faith is a dark blue turtleneck that I would love a lot more if it was less suffocating. I cut off about 2/3 of the neck, picked up the stitches, and bound off to make a mock turtleneck. I forgot to take a picture before I started, but I actually have two versions of this sweater since Express cut the price so much late last winter. So, here's the post-op dark blue with it's unaltered counterpart:

And here's a rather serious shot of it on:

(You would think that pressing the button on the camera was an extremely difficult maneuver, based on my facial expression. Geez. :-) Also, note the *bright* sunshine streaming in through the window. Not as fun as the northeastern snow storm, but at least further proof that it isn't always raining in Seattle.)

Also, thanks to everyone for the fish-hoping. He's eating again, exploring, and playing with his mate. I tried to take a picture of him as proof that he really is looking better, but he wouldn't stay still long enough to get a non-blurry shot:

He's the blurry top guy.

Darted behind the
top bar.

Wriggly swimming.

I suppose that ought to be proof enough. :-)

Tough Week on the Fish Front

January 21, 2005

After relatively few mishaps so far (the worst have involved accidental water spillage from the buckets), we made a massive mistake last week. The addition of the quarantine tank was supposed to keep our clowns happy and healthy so that we could put them into the main system in about three weeks, confident that they were disease-free. We were doing twice-weekly 30% water changes from the main tank and seemed to be cruising along until one of our clowns all of a sudden started acting like a terribly sick fish. He was just sitting inside the pvc tubes breathing, stopped eating, and his face all of a sudden looked all sunken.

We tested the water, and realized that our ammonia, nitrite and nitrate had gotten way too high. The symptoms (thank you, Google) matched perfectly for ammonia- and nitrite-poisoning (and had been there for several days before we realized: breathing at the surface, listlessness, etc). We did two water changes in 10 hours, and it didn't bring the quality up at all, so we put the clowns in the main tank to try to save them (the second one was having symptoms too by that point).

When we let them go in the main tank, our sick guy looked like this for the entire first day:

head down, tail up, and breathing hard. The fish store gave him a 50% chance of pulling through, and I was utterly wracked with guilt, since we'd essentially poisoned our fish and it should have been preventable. Our second fish bounced back pretty fast and he would go off to swim around the tank for a few seconds, then beeline back and nudge his friend, then go off again. They're such a pair.

This was a typical scene by yesterday: the sick clown down in the corner, spending minimum energy, the well one off exploring and playing with the currents, and the gramma lurking unhappily by his cave, ready to give chase and nip any dumb clownfish that got too close. We had to rearrange the rocks to give the clowns a corner with some protection because the gramma wasn't graciously adapting to his new tankmates.

Today, our guy was looking a bit better, and even had enough energy to go play with his reflection.

He still hasn't eaten though, so it remains very much a fingers-crossed situation.

On Inauguration Day

January 20, 2005

"War President" by Joe at American Leftist
early April, 2004.
(From his website:"It's a mosaic composed of the photos of the American service men and women who have died in Iraq. No photograph is used more than three times.")

Today is a difficult day politically (both for those who are unhappy with four more years and for their interaction with people who aren't). I don't have much to say other than that I do respect the office of the president, if not the person holding it, and I recognize the value of the system that re-elected him, even if I'm not happy with the result. I did not plan to post a political message today.

However, I came across this image while surfing tonight, and it hit me very strongly. I think it makes an important and emotional statement, especially when paired with the artist's (short) commentary on the public reaction to it. Such young faces, and such a mangled purpose.

So, in spite of my original intent, here's a somber note of protest for January 20th.

A Finally-Finished Project

January 18, 2005

My last Boston project was a modified booga bag. The booga bag measurements according to the pattern were supposed to be about 4.5"D x 7.5"W x 8.5"H, which seemed awfully small to me. I was envisioning something vaguely gym-bag-like, which could hold sneakers and workout clothes on the T (even though there is no T in Seattle. Ahh, denial). The bag I was using at that point was a small paper Crate and Barrel bag (I never said I was stylish), so I was thinking something along those lines, just sturdier and not a walking ad. The booga bag seemed perfectly shaped, long and thin, just a tad small. So I did some math (famous last words), knit like the dickens for my last week at home, and the bag was the inaugural load of laundry in my new Seattle apartment.

Unfortunately, what was perfectly dimensioned before felting:

no longer could aspire to the same purpose afterwards. The finished bag measurements are 6"D x 10"W x 8"H -- about a third of the height I was envisioning. The base is perfect, though, so I must have just spaced out on one little multiplication.
(Though it's also possible that I just leave things in to felt longer and it sucks the height out of them. For example, look at my Sophie vs. the model.)

Rather than finishing the bag then, I let it languish on top of my bag of knitting things. I bought lining fabric way back in October, but didn't follow through. Right before Sharon got here, I got out the sewing machine and made a lining, with a large interior pocket trimmed on the top with black piping. I finally finished sewing it in last night, added a lined cardboard square to the bottom for dimension, two snaps to the interior pocket, and fitting in the handles. Instead of tying the two I-cords together, as per the instructions, I sewed them together with yarn and a metal needle so that they would be less bulky.

So, yay for finished projects!!

Pattern: Booga Bag with size modifications
Yarn: Cascade 220
Colors: #8555 (black), #2409 (med. green), #9406 (speckled blue-green)

Amazing what I get done when the mountains are out

January 15, 2005

Combining my rugged individualism with my unwillingness to pay $17 to dispose of my Christmas tree, I took matters into my own hands yesterday and sawed the thing apart, limb by limb, so that it would fit in our "yard waste" collection bin (circled in the picture below).

This is the second year running that I have dismantled the tree in order to remove it from my apartment, and in a mildly pagan way, it is becoming one of my favorite parts of Christmas. First the exercise of wrestling the thing apart (this year's addition of a saw was extremely helpful), then the amazing smell, and finally the result of not having to feel guilty looking at an abandoned Christmas tree all alone in the cold trash heap -- abandoned branches are so much less sentimental somehow.

I started bottom-up, removing the limbs, then took it out of the stand to saw the trunk in thirds before sawing the branches off the top. Somehow, it all fit in the bin.

And now we're back to our regular living room, which looks so much bigger without the greenery:

If you didn't have goosebumps before reading...

January 13, 2005

So, the rat update: Kevin bought traps on Tuesday and set them up, baited with peanut butter and pecans, after we saw a huge rat run into the middle of our living room and discovered that it had been leaping up onto counters to munch on our bagels. (eww!! eww eww)

I've been wearing my tall boots around the house and only fleeing downstairs and straight back up when absolutely necessary. Last night I called my landlord, Jeff, just to let him know too. (The couple next door has a four month baby, etc... He needed to know.) Jeff earned massive amounts of appreciation by sounding genuinely horrified and aghast and then taking over the apartment for five hours today to rout out the problem. He removed the dishwasher to find that the plumbers had drilled their own holes instead of using the ones Jeff left for them, thus leaving large holes behind our cabinets down to the crawl space. They patched those, then went under the house into the crawl space (shudder) to look for more rat holes (shudder again), clean up droppings, spray foam everywhere to seal things, and make sure it all looked ship shape.

So, here's to responsive landlords with high standards.

I feel so much better and have taken off the boots. :-) We're leaving the traps up for a few more days, but now I don't have to worry about huge jumping rats taking over my home.

Mid-week weekend update

January 12, 2005

I'm not on the ball for blogging this week, it seems. Here's the catch-up:

My sister Sharon came out to visit for a few days of her winter break, and was here Thursday night through Monday morning. It was awesome to have her -- the whole Providence-to-Seattle distance is hard to me. We took the ferry to Bainbridge, watched the Seahawks in a bar downtown, went to the fish store (she asked, we really didn't drag her), and she re-learned to knit so we went to Acorn Street to get scarf yarn (again, she asked). In between we ate a lot of yummy food, tea and made it over to Essential Bakery. I wish she'd stay -- or maybe include Seattle in her job search locations... (not that I'm hinting)

While we were at the fish store, we picked up two baby clownfish. They're awesome. We'd been thinking of a school-of-3 of green chromis just to have more fish all at once, but I was both worried about them vs. the size of our tank and really wanted a clownfish (we've read a lot that unless you have a matched (aka breeding) pair of clownfish that there will be dominance issues, so we thought that it was 3 chromis or 1 clownfish). The ever-helpful employees of Blue Sierra explained that if you buy them young and approximately the same size, they will be fine living together. Further research at home showed that clownfish are hermaphroditic -- when it comes time to breed the larger becomes female, the smaller male and it all works out. (Do your own google search if you want a lot of "gender-bending & disney" commentary...) So, now we have two happy, hungry, wiggly clownfish bopping around our kitchen tank. They really are the golden retrievers of the fish world.

My favourite part of watching them is the way their mouths move. The littler one looks like she's constantly saying "bopbopbop" and the one with more black tipping on his fins has a bigger chin and says "blablabla." They both have a constant stream of running commentary, and keep talking over each other. It amuses me highly. Based on their sibling relationship (they were captive bred) and fondness of talking, they have been named Click and Clack (aka, the boston bros who've been doing Car Talk on NPR since the early 80's).
(Note: This appellation is doubly appropriate since we got them while Shar was out visiting and she and Dave gave me two Car Talk cds for my birthday for the cross-country drive to Seattle.)

and what's going on...

January 11, 2005

my sister came to visit (wonderful), we got a pair of clownfish (a post of their own), I'm knitting fingerless mittens (ooh), my wonderful aunt carol came to dinner, and kevin eiher wants me to get a job (reasonable) or start a yarn store (woah).


I have pictures, but there's a rat in our kitchen (VERY STRONG UGH!) and I'm not going down tonight to fetch my camera, so patience.

All I have for you is the recomendation: Our Lady Peace -- Innocent. Sweet dreams!

New Procrastination Technique!

January 05, 2005

Last year for Christmas, my great-uncle Buddy gave me a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. I've been enjoying having it all year, and have used bits of it, but when he just gave me another one for Christmas '04, I decided to go wild and use up the balance on the 2003 version. (I *love* gift certificates, but they bring out my hoarding side. The same is true of art supplies.)

So, last night I went over to the book store, and found the Reader's Digest Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches. It's *so* cool. :-) I got home and dug out my crochet hook (Christmas '88, from Mrs. Claus, and barely ever used), and promptly got confused. The light of day made things clearer and today I managed this:

How neat! This is all acrylic scrap yarn from ages ago, and the medium blue is quite bulky so it doesn't look like the picture in the book in the least, but I'm happy! What fun!

Hurray for Socks

January 04, 2005

Want to see one of my favourite things in the world?

New socks! And the two on the left have angora (thank you gap!!) and were on sale for $2 a pair, and the two on the right are all fancy and for boots. Sarah Duggan used to love socks in high school, and I never got it, but what? seven years later? I finally see the light.

Sadly, I can't claim the same affection for these:

They're moving along, but I've completely been weaned from my desire to knit k4 p2 ribbing for many feet (har har...) on size 2s. The heel turn was really exciting, but that came and went and now i'm just continuing in pattern for 7 inches. All you sock addicts out there have earned my respect.

We love buckets.

January 02, 2005

Want to see our bucket collection? :-)

The three silver-blue ones are brand new (yay!), and this picture doesn't include the one filled with saltwater that was heating in the living room. Our 7-bucket collection may not seem blog-worthy (I'll bring back the knitting content tomorrow, promise.), but it's exciting to us because now we can do twice-weekly water changes! :-P (If that doesn't make you think "yeehaw", I don't know what will...)

To go with our buckets, and in anticipation of our next fish, we also bought a little 10-gallon tank to serve as a quarantine tank. The idea is that new fish can stay there for 2-3 weeks, or sick fish can live there to be treated, and therefore you minimize disease in your main system. It fits on the counter perfectly, and we got a bunch of PVC tubing for hiding places. The quarantine tank is supposed to be easily scrubbable, so this is the limit for the decor. We still need siding so that the fish won't have a heart attack when the front door opens, and a heater & thermometer, and to fill it with water (see the bucket part above), but we should be ready for our next fish sometime this week!

Happy 2005!

January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

I'm not generally a resolutions person, but I have two this year:
  1. Learn to buy stylish shoes, like my sister.
    She always looks great, I only sometimes do. I think shoes would help. Perhaps look into pointy toes?
  2. Take out that box that's been sitting by the front door and recycle it.
    It held the lights for our tank, is as tall as I am, has been there since november, and has to go.

Oh, yes: and get a job.

Addendum, 3:30 pm:
The box is out. I'm 50% of the new person I want to be. :-)