January 31, 2009

Within moments of blocking Kevin's hat, I was already swatching for my next project. I've had this yarn sitting in my stash for ages, and finally came up with a perfect idea for it. The ball band called for #6 needles, so I cast on and away I went, then realized the resulting fabric was far too loose. Oops. I went down to #5 needles, then #4, and finally #3 before everything seemed like the proper fit.

The good news is that the gauge is now a perfect DK, which will make the math nice and easy. (I'm loosely following a pattern, but it was written for worsted yarn.)

I'm planning to switch off in 2 row stripes, which I think will look great. My only concern is that the darker color seems prone to bleeding, and I want this to be machine-washable. The ball band says something about doing the first wash in vinegar – will that set the color? Prevent bleeding?

The colors above are quite a bit off. This photo is closer, but both yarns are a little bit more teal and less blue, and less saturated than they appear in this photo.


Blocking in the sunlight

January 30, 2009

For some reason the last few inches of the hat took days this time around. I finally managed to bind off, sew in the few last ends, and get it blocked. Since this was a Christmas present, I'm feeling relieved that it's finished before the end of January. Entering a new month with it still on the needles would have been too guilt-inducing.

(Note that the garlic is thriving!)

Kevin vs. the Moss, rounds 1 & 2

January 27, 2009

After months of growing increasingly irritated at the moss, Kevin began the war to eradicate it. First he tried spraying zinc sulphate, and when that wasn't lethal enough he switched to an ammoniated soaps and fatty acids solution.

I'm pretty ambivalent about this phase of the project (the moss is so green, and I'm not really a spraying chemicals person), but I'm considering it a trial for our roof which desperately needs moss relief. The chemical-free solution (scrubbing with a wire brush) isn't really an option for the shingles.

Several days later, the moss is distinctly dead in some patches and distinctly flourishing in others.

The colors in this photo are particularly true – the moss is thicker and greener than the lawn at this point.

You have to be impressed at its tenacity.


January 24, 2009

It took me ages to weave in the last few ends, and then even longer until we had enough daylight for a photo, but the striped Noro scarf is finally done!

And really, just in time. It has been so cold here, and I’m in heavy scarf rotation. I’ve been getting lots of compliments on it (and from randoms like people in the cafeteria at work and the cashier at Ann Taylor, not just friends who suspect I made it myself), so that’s an extra bit of gratification.

I'm still thinking I might use wool wash on it, since that's supposed to make it that much softer (according to the Yarn Harlot). That will be a new thing for me, though -- does anyone have a favourite wool wash? Where do you find it?

Just as fun the second time around

January 21, 2009

I finally measured Kevin’s head and ripped the hat back to the proper number of stitches (I was off by 20 stitches, or just over 2 inches, so it’s a substantial difference). Here’s a status photo 7 rows into the reconstruction.

All of the mini balls of yarn are the remnants of the ripping. I felt clever for labeling them as I went so that it would be easy to keep the order straight. Since this photo, I’ve finished the dark stripe, and am halfway through the next white stripe. The yarn is gorgeous to work with. I’m not managing to knit as fast as I did in December, but Kevin’s been talking about biking to work again so I’m trying to rush.


January 20, 2009

This is such a proud, happy, hopeful day. Call it youthful idealism, but it seems like we’re at a moment that’s defined by its potential. So much is off-kilter in our country now, from the economy to our wars, the environment and the investment in infrastructure, and our basic ability to view ourselves as a strong, capable nation. For so long, the trend lines on all of those scary long term problems (health care, social security, global warming, energy, education, etc) have been heading in increasingly dire directions. And there is so much uncertainty and fear right now that it seems odd to have confidence that those problems can be addressed. However, I’ve been listening to Obama speak for years now, and I think he not only has the intelligence and ability to tackle these big problems, but the more rare ability to inspire people to make hard decisions and progress past the nadir. The fact that so many millions of people listened to him and then voted him (and all of his complex opinions) into office is an amazing, wonderful first step.

Time will tell but I’m so optimistic.

I didn’t want to post without a picture. This one is completely appropriated (it’s a quilt from the “President Obama: A Celebration in Art Quilts” show that’s coming up at the Cafritz Art Center in Maryland – wish the show was closer, it looks amazing). There have been some really neat stories, I think, about the grassroots-level outpouring of folk art that the Obama campaign and now presidency are inspiring. Everything from photos and paintings, to street art, murals, mosaics, large scale carvings and sculpture... You certainly see evidence of it on the craft blogs, and there’s a neat general blog about the art here. I completely understand the emotion that drives all of this creativity, and so many of the results are just beautiful.


January 19, 2009

Yet again, the garlic sat on the counter for too long, lost patience, and sprouted. And yet again, I planted it.

It’s beginning to take off, in that twisty way it grows. We actually had three days of sunshine in a row (!!!) and it looked so cheerful there on the counter. Perhaps the reprieve from the January gloom and the light have gone to my head, but I’m already scheming about starting lavender and veggie seeds there too. Realistically, it's still way too early but I'm ready for spring!

Wall art

January 18, 2009

A fun mail day: the first package I’ve ever received from Mexico.

We were mystified at first, and then realized it was the bird prints from Etsy that our sisters gave us for Christmas!! They’re so lovely. Here they are gracing our coffee table, where they’ll stay until the bathroom wall is ready for them.

It shouldn’t be too much longer. Kevin has been spending impressive amounts of time priming, texturing, and repriming the bathroom walls. (He’s even getting up early to work on it before work, so that he can keep the schedule tight. Dedication.) A mid-conversation photo of him and the gleaming white textured walls.

This weekend, we finally chose a paint color, and we can’t wait to see how it looks up on the walls.

So the birds shouldn’t have to wait too long!



January 17, 2009

We woke up yesterday morning to thick, ghostly fog. The view from my pillow:

And from the end of the bed:

Normally, given the house's position relative to the hill, we can just see pine trees and the tops of neighbours' houses from our room, but there's something about only being able to see half of the normal field of depth that is wonderful and eerie. I kept snoozing, and the fog kept being there when I woke up. It finally burned off around 10, leaving just the normal thick clouds and deep grey. But this morning, we had a repeat performance followed by winter sunlight and blue skies – a wonderful day.

In an attempt to steel ourselves against the second half of January, we looked up the sunset times the other day. On January 25th, we'll finally have all the way until 5:00 before the sun sets. By March 5th, the sunset will be after 6, and (in a daylight savings cheat) three days later it will be after 7! On March 17th, we'll finally be back to having more than half a day of light (even if it's the Seattle, clouded-over kind). We're looking forward to that.

And levity ensued

January 14, 2009

Kevin's been making major progress on the bathroom – the holes are fixed, the wires for the bathroom light have been relocated, and he's gone through many coats of spackle. We need to choose a paint color soon – it's on the verge of becoming a blocking issue!

Funny story from last week:
Kevin bought an industrial-looking work light so that he could actually see what he was working on. We thought it would be useful to also hook up one of our table lamps so that the bathroom would still be available for non-spackling use. We agreed that it made sense to be able to switch it on and off (it's too hard to see the outlet to plug the lamp in). I wandered off, back to my book, thinking we were in agreement. A chapter or so later, Kevin asked me to come in and see his work:

He'd found an extra outlet, hooked it up to the overhead light wires (which are in turn connected to the wall switch), added an extension cord, and voila: the light turns on and off. I laughed and laughed. We have a bunch of those plug extenders that you can toggle right at the outlet, and I was envisioning just grabbing one of those. I should have been more clear. :-) Kevin, next to his handiwork, holding the switch:

Secret December Knitting

January 11, 2009

This was an insanely difficult secret to keep, but I knit a biking hat for Kevin for Christmas. :-) The goal is something that would fit snugly under his helmet, and keep his ears and the back of his neck warm during his commute in the cold months. I decided to splurge on Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. The colors match his paniers (carrying bags that attach to his bike so that he doesn't have to wear a backpack).

The yarn made the secret that much harder to keep – it feels heavenly, and it was so hard not to find him and share. :-) The pattern is based on Thorpe, but I revised it for DK yarn. I had to guess at his head size based on some surreptitious baseball hat measuring, and I ended up knitting it about an inch too big.

So now the project for the next week or so is to rip back and resize it – at least it won't be secret this time!!


January 04, 2009

The sky from the backyard at 4:14 PM:

We still have a long way to go until the days are a reasonable length again, but it's heartening to know that the amount of daylight will increase steadily for the next five and a half months.

In other news, Kevin got the horrid light fixture down and patched the walls!

There are still several rounds of spackle to go, but it's already a vast improvement.

And the gramma is now swimming around the tank, though he cuts his explorations short the moment that he realizes someone else is in the room. This was his hiding spot for the first few days, tucked up against the bottom of the tank next to this big piece of PVC.

He's since found a much less visible spot, so I'm glad that I got this picture even if it's not the best angle.


More ringing out the old

January 01, 2009

Kevin did good work this afternoon removing the old vanity from the bathroom!

It's so nice to have it gone. There's an older layer of vinyl flooring underneath, but it can stay an archeological curiosity, since the new vanity will cover it completely. Whew. (The state of the floor was one of the great unknowns, since replacing it would necessitate moving the toilet, which wasn't on the list. It's a huge relief that there wasn't some terrible problem lurking under there.) So now, a bit more wall repair (probably about five days worth, with the spackling x3, texturing, and primer coat), then we can paint our yet-undecided color, and put up the new vanity, mirror, and medicine cabinet!! If we're speedy, it will probably be a 2-3 week project? Fingers crossed.


New Years

We rang out the old year by going to the fish store to talk to them about ordering a custom tank and stand. When we bought the house part of the plan was to improve the fishtank and it's exciting to finally be past enough of the insulation and water heater type projects that we can start working on this one. We definitely want to go a bit bigger (though certainly not to the swim-in dimensions that Kevin aspires to), but equally important factors are noise reduction and automation (ie, no more buckets stacked everywhere for water changes and water top-off!!). Our designs are now submitted so that we can get a quote. Fun! The fish store also had a great group of Royal Grammas and we brought one home. (Our first fish was a gramma, and we thought he was great. So sad when he didn't make it through the wind storm power outage two years ago.) The timing is great, since we're done with travel for a few months, and after acclimating him for a bit we got him settled in the quarantine tank. He'll stay there for the next month (he's unlikely to be susceptible to parasites, but if he's carrying any we need to give them time to die off before we introduce him to the tang). He's been doing a little bit of exploring, which seems practically sociable compared to the old gramma, but wasn't really visible enough for photos. Perhaps in a few days...

Champagne, etc, to celebrate "New Years in Boston" (aka 9 PM) while we finished getting the new guy settled:

(Kevin's covered in salt residue. You can see a bit of purple in the bottom-left corner of our tank – our new dude!)

Larry came by a little bit later for champagne and to catch up (we haven't seen him in ages).

Everyone looks lively in this photo but Larry was planning to go out and practice his avalanche skills the next day, so he left just after 11. I was asleep 20 minutes later. :-) Such a fun day, but not our rowdiest-ever New Year's celebration?