Looking for Ideas

July 31, 2006

I have 290 yards of a gorgeous color of Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca & Silk (it's a 50-50 blend), which was a birthday present from Amanda.

I'm looking for pattern thoughts. Any ideas? I was thinking possibly a long version of these. The gauge for the yarn is 5-6 st/in. For the moment, it's been hanging out by my computer so that I can pet it as I go by (so soft!), but it would be nice to have a project in mind for it. :-)

The Friday roundup

July 28, 2006

This has been such an exciting and fun week, but busy and not conducive to pictures. So, a recap: Pearl Jam at the gorge, skipping the company picnic due to the extreme heat, lots of wedding conversations, envying the fish. (We only have one fan, and the greater Seattle area is completely sold out. The fish's water can't get much over 82 degrees, and the best way to keep it in check other than buying a $200 chiller is evaporation. So, cool fish, sweltering us. Note to self: buy fans this weekend.) Plus, busyness at work, errands, ring researching, and Stitch n Pitch!!

Note knitting clutched in ring-bedecked hand. :-) I only made it through one row in nine innings. It's a good thing that no one depends on my knitting ever being finished.

It seemed like a good turnout, and knitters accounted for a lot of three sections. Good fun! The eastside stitchers made a good showing, and it was fun to get to see Laura again and meet her baby in person. Very cute!

And a final picture (all of these were taken by Diana -- I forgot my camera, and traffic was too miserable to go back for it. Thanks, Diana!!), to prove that we were actually at the game. It was a romp (Go Blue Jays!) and it was fun to see all of the Canadian flags flying in the park.

Good fun, I hope they do it again next year.

An eventful start to the weekend!!

July 22, 2006

So when I said that 25 seemed like a "big" year, I wasn't expecting the fun to begin quite so soon... (!)

We were having friends over for birthday cake and the red sox game last night, and Kevin proposed as everyone was showing up! :-) Such fun, because then the night was doubly a celebration, and it was so great to have good friends there to be so happy with us. The ring is just "for now" -- $4 at Clare's, but now we get to go ring shopping together! It keeps flying off, since it's way too big, so I rigged a bracelet/leash for it until the real ring appears. :-D

Some tank photos

July 20, 2006

I snapped a few quick pictures of the tank last night, since things looked so neat in the "twilight". (Our daylight lighting is composed of a mix of blue and white light. For about forty minutes at the beginning and end of the day, the white lights go out and everything in the tank looks fluorescent under the blue-only lights. It's kind of like having a blacklight.)

The first is our Montipora (with the ever-inquisitive Click in the foreground). Earlier in the spring, our calcium had lowered to almost nothing. Kevin (very clever kid) spent a while eliminating potential issues before he identified the problem and since May, he's been dosing aggressively to push the calcium back up to a healthy level. This montipora was showing the most negative effects from the plunge -- all of his mouths were closed, and the pink was actually retreating. He's come back completely, and is now actually growing. (You can see the white new growth at the tips at the upper-left and upper-right! yay!)

It's so frustrating when creatures in the tank aren't looking healthy, because it can be so many different factors. Most of it is trial and error. Is there some trace element built up in the water? Missing from the water? Is the lighting too much/not enough? Is there too much/not enough water flow? Are the ailing creatures not getting enough of the right kind of food? Are two corals too close together? (Corals use chemical warfare as a defense system.) Is something (fish, crazy hitchhiker crab, unknown tank inhabitant...) eating or pestering someone else? Is the temperature too high or low? Does this creature expect a greater depth (and thus higher water pressure)?

So many different possibilities to ponder, and since our little tank ecosystem is all a web, tweaking one thread can affect many of the other variables. I'm so glad that Kevin figured out the calcium piece and that it's been a pretty straight-forward fix.

Our one guy who's never seemed to have these issues is the leather. He keeps growing merrily, and looks particularly amazing in the blue light:

Oooh. :-)

Happy birthday-week to me

July 19, 2006

I turned 25 yesterday. It's such a nice solid, momentous sort of number. After a few years of meandering, non-event ages (23? what happens at 23?), it's kind of fun to have a year that really sounds like it means something. :-)

Since Tuesday isn't a great day for large scale celebrations, I meant to spend the night quilting, and just put off the celebration until the weekend. Instead, I got to spend the night talking to a long roll of friends and family, which was so much fun. I almost never get to talk to the east coast crowd during the week, and it was so good to catch up with people. Kevin was out, so I didn't have to feel bad about delaying dinner or plans between the two of us, and it was just a fun evening. (It actually bears remembering for next year -- an alternate date celebration is probably better so that I can do my fun phone call roundup.)

So, tonight, birthday-plus-one, I finally got to break out the sewing machine. My progress before bedtime was pretty minimal, so here's a photo for ambiance. The buds that broke off from my birthday flowers (yay, Kevin!) are in the background. So pretty! The pictures I took of the full bouquet didn't really come out with the flash, so you'll have to imagine the rest of the various pretty pinks. :-)

Here's to 25! May it be as important a year as it sounds like it should be. :-)

Halfway there!

July 14, 2006

I'm finished with the back of my twist top tank!

(Sorry for the bizarre perspective -- it really is even in real life.) I worked on it fairly steadily in Pennsylvania, and finally finished the shoulders last night. Though I was following the pattern, and my guage is on, it's very long and skinny. We'll have to see what blocking does for that. Now on to the front!

Playing catch-up

July 10, 2006

I didn't mean to go all AWOL on the blog-posting, but it was the product of a busy last two weeks of work before Kevin and I headed back to the east coast for vacation. First we headed up to Lake Winnepesaukee, NH to see my parents for their 30th anniversary, then (maximizing the benefit for the cross-country travel time), we flew down to PA to see Kevin's family. I even brought the card reader for my camera, but somehow never got around to posting... oops. Since I had pictures, I've gone back and filled in some posts from the trip.

Here's to more frequent posts! :-)

Lancaster and Bird-In-Hand, PA

July 07, 2006

Kevin's Mom, sister and grandmother took us to brunch in Lancaster, PA on Friday. When we moved to Seattle, our cross country drive started through the Lancaster area, but it was early in the morning and we didn't take any time to stop and be touristy. I thought it was so fun to go back. The area is home to a (the?) large Amish population, and it's such pretty rolling hillside laid out in farms. It's a gorgeous ride, though you have to keep an eye out for buggies, since they share the road.

After brunch, we drove back through Bird-In-Hand (the town names out there are great...). There was a knick knack shop which turned out to also contain a great fabric store. In the back they had racks of hand-made quilts, which were amazing. Given how long my machine piecing is taking, I can't imagine how long the hand-quilted versions must take to finish, even with a guild of women all working on them at once. Since the quilts were rather beyond my budget, I came away with a few yards of fabric:

They look like mosaics! Here's a picture with a quarter for scale:

I don't have a project in mind yet for either of them. (a bag? a sundress? pajama pants?) They had so much neat fabric that I haven't seen anywhere else and the two women minding the store were friendly and interesting to talk to, so I'm happy to have such a pretty souvenir.

We also stopped at the Bird-In-Hand farmers' market. I was expecting more raw produce instead of the well-packaged crafts and prepared food, but regardless it was fun to look around. We sampled the fudge, pastry, jellies and cheese (mmm), and Kevin was so happy to see scrapple.

I wasn't entirely sad that they weren't giving out free samples of that, too. :-P

From the airplane window

July 05, 2006

We had major delays on the flights from Manchester to Philadelphia. As the plane got closer to landing, it was clear why. They'd been citing the weather, but it was so dramatic to fly next to the huge thunderheads suddenly boiling up into the sky.

The picture doesn't do it justice, since we flew too close to them to give a sense of the perfectly flat clouds that these towered out of. I was glad that we weren't flying through them (our teeny plane would have been bounced all over the place), but it was such a neat thing to fly next to. Yay for summer storms!

Happy Fourth!

July 04, 2006

It's hard to argue with a fourth of July spent knitting on the deck in the sun. :-) Comet was hanging out nearby, being very cute with his toy, so the background will have to suffice for a patriotic shot.

Dad and Sharon flew out mid-afternoon, and Comet acted like the ultimate depressed dog when they left with their suitcases. Kevin and I finally coaxed him outside, but it took a few hours before he was back to playing and looking for attention. Poor dog.

As seems to be our wont, we watched the fireworks for Center Harbor, Meredith and Laconia indoors with the lights off. Great shows from all three, plus extras from Squam Lake, an unidentified show straight across the lake, and from lots of our neighbors. The fireworks some people buy to shoot off their docks rivaled some of the town displays, so it was fun to watch.

Happy fourth, and happy anniversary Mom and Dad!

Knitting in New Hampshire

July 03, 2006

I've been having fun playing with my ball of Noro Lotus. I decided to knit it up into an I-cord strap for a felted bag, thinking that it would really pop against a black background. But while the thickness of the five-stitch I-cord felt about right, I was really disappointed with the colors. I loved the chaotic warm colors with the white, yellow and blue highlights that showed when the yarn was in a ball, but when I started knitting the impression was just blocks, and I didn't think they were pretty. I particularly wasn't a fan of the stretch of blue, and all of the vibrant red and pink was more or less gone.

(Comet thought his rope was *far* more interesting than taking pictures of knitting... He kept tossing it around and growling. :-) Funny dog.)

This wasn't fitting my vision at all, so then I decided to double the yarn and start over. Here is about two inches of progress with a doubled four-stitch I-cord -- so much better!!

I actually decided to rip back yet again and make it a 3-stitch cord since it was seeming a bit too thick. I also cut out the blue, green, and mustard brown stretches of the yarn. Noro always throws in colors that I think would have been better left out. I tried to be open minded and leave them in, but after knitting along I had to rip back and get rid of them. Not pretty. Now I probably won't have enough yarn (especially for the double strap I wanted), but the colors are so pretty again that I don't mind. :-) Maybe I'll be able to find another ball even thought it's discontinued?

Once I was on the right track colorwise, I was so happy to have an excuse to go to Keepsake Quilting one town over in Center Harbor for the bag lining. I found a shockingly bright Bali print (shown in the picture above), and I think it will work perfectly if I have enough yarn to finish the strap. (I also picked up this pattern for Four Corner Designs' Stash Box Quilt -- so pretty, even if not something I will get to soon.)

While I was at the quilt store, I swung by Patternworks, which is right next door and run by the same people. I get their catalog, but the yarn is usually pricier than buying it locally. The store always has sale bins out front though, and I was quite pleased to find 6 balls of Jaeger's Siena 4 Ply in a pretty light leaf green.

I'm hoping it will be enough to make some sort of shrug, though I don't have an exact pattern in mind yet.

Oooh, New Hampshire sky

July 02, 2006

We had pretty sunsets all of the nights, but Sunday's was truly stunning. It was a mix of salmon clouds against a bright pink sky, and the color well past overhead from the horizon.

Looking straight out from the deck was even prettier with all of the islands silhouetted in dark purple.

New Hampshire nature

July 01, 2006

It seems like the wet spring in New England must have led to bumper crops for chipmunks, because they were everywhere. This fat little guy moved into the stone wall by the deck:

Despite the butterball appearance, he didn't seem too weighed down -- he was still incredibly quick to zip away whenever Comet came out on the deck.