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Archive for October, 2007

Last night The Baron and I hung out at home with our pumpkins. I cleaned out the pulp and seeds, he did the seed-baking, and we both did some carving.

My pumpkin is, well, let’s just say it is not ideally shaped. It looks like it’s been folded in on itself on one side, and on the other it’s fairly flat except for a diagonal seam and lots of pockmarks.

I had no idea where I was going when I started carving. I cut out the first eye and then it occurred to me that my pumpkin had done some hard living. After I carved the eye-patch where the second eye should’ve been, my pumpkin was decidedly dastardly and called out for a sufficiently wicked mustache.

I’m pretty pleased with how he turned out, in the end, and of course there’s always the joy of using a knife (we have one of those kiddie-safety-carvers we got last year at the 99-cent store) and not ending up with a frankenfinger. Go me!

The Baron’s favorite holiday is Halloween, and so when it comes to pumpkin carving he is a traditionalist, although he did take a slightly modern turn with his squash-art this year. I like the way the eyes are a subtle update on the usual triangles. The pumpkin’s also got a slightly vampiric look about the canines and an adorably off-center grin.

There’s been a lot going on, but even so I’ve still made time to knit. I finished a few striped green baby caps and I’ve started on the Elizabeth Zimmerman February Baby sweater for a new little girl who arrived recently. One sleeve is finished and you can start to see the spirit of the sweater emerging:

I’ve also made a start on the Tangled Yoke Cardigan and am looking forward to the miles of ribbing I have yet to do. I am very pleased with the color of the yarn and I’m hoping my stepmom will be happy with it as well:

And as for me and The Baron, tomorrow is our three-year anniversary, and it marks the end of the multiple celebrations and holidays that start with my birthday. This year we have something extra-special to celebrate . . .

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Finally, after multiple swatches and pestering my dad for measurements, yarn shopping and needle purchasing, I think I am ready to cast on for the Tangled Yoke Cardigan.  I takes so long to get ready and organized for a major knit, but the good news is that once the prep is done properly, the knitting (the fun part) is all that’s left.  Needless to say, I am quite excited to get those first stitches on the needles!  In the meantime, I’ve been knitting for babies as though if I don’t personally knit for them, all the heads of all the babies in the universe would be chilly (tragedy!) and all their little toes would be un-bootied.

Tonight we will have an actual (yes!  real!) baby in the house . . . if I can resist munching on his chubby baby cheeks I hope to convince his mom to let him model some of my creations . . . fingers crossed for pictures to follow . . .

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My first meme . . .

From Miss A . . . if you are moved to respond with your answers please copy me! It’s my blog and I can do what I wanna, so I left out a few questions . . .

1. What time is it
3:33 pm

3. What are you most afraid of
Being irrelevant . . . not being important to the people who are important to me.

4. What is the most recent movie that you have seen in a Theater
The Simpsons Movie. I haven’t had too many good theater experiences recently, but this one was great . . . this kid in the back row kept yelling out “Oh, SNAP!” after every single joke and by the end he made me laugh as much as the movie did.

6. Favorite food
Ice cream, sushi (when I am eating fish!), pasta, a nice glass of ice water with really crunchy ice in it . . .

7. What’s your natural hair color
Brown

8. Ever been to Alaska
No.

9. Ever been toilet papering
No.

10. Love someone so much it made you cry
Now come on. Who has made it through adolescence and not had this experience?

11. Been in a car accident
Hmm . . . yes. Once when I was a teenager and our car got hit from behind (I was a passenger) by a scary driver who jumped out of his truck and ran off into the bushes. Then of course there are the usual LA fender-benders . . . but nothing serious.

12. Croutons or bacon bits
Well . . . croutons I guess, since I don’t eat meat (yeah, yeah, except for fish sometimes).  I do like the Morningstar Farms Veggie Bacon though I’ve never tried it on salad. I really like candied walnuts, goat cheese and cranberries in a salad . . .

13. Favorite day of the week
Saturday — no contest. You get to wake up and go to sleep not stressing.

14. Favorite restaurant
Right now it’s the grill at home. Recently we’ve been into Mr. Cecil’s (I get the catfish and hush puppies, The Baron gets ribs) and of course there’s Katsuya and Hamasaku . . .

15. Favorite Flower
Roses? I guess? I like anything really colorful. We have some great Birds-of-Paradise in the garden just about to bloom . . . maybe when they do they’ll become my new fave.

16. Favorite sport to watch
Umm . . .

17. Favorite drink
Water. Eight glasses a day people!

18. Favorite ice cream
Pretty much anything with ice cream in the name works for me. Faves include coffee, chocolate-chocolate chip, pistachio, strawberry, mint-chip as part of B&R ice cream cake, vanilla as part of a root beer float or as a topping.

19. Disney or Warner Brothers
This is a hard one. I guess Warner Brothers . . . but what are we really talking about? Corporate parents? Feature studios? TV networks?

20. Ever been on a ship
I used to take the ferry to work every day, does that count?

21. What color is your bedroom carpet
Dark blue. So are the walls, ceiling and bedclothes. The Baron likes his sleep-cave . . .

22. How many times did you fail your driver’s test
Zero. But I think I passed with the lowest possible passing score.

24. What do you do when you are bored
Knit. What else is there?

25. Bedtime
Depends on the day. Weekdays it’s between 10 (if I’m lucky) and midnight (if I’m not).

29. Favorite TV shows
This is a hard one . . . West Wing, The Wire and Six Feet Under are on the all-time faves list. Right now I am Tivo’ing Friday Night Lights, Heroes, How I Met Your Mother (I *heart* NPH!) and Grey’s Anatomy, and I love love love the new show Life on NBC — the writers are amazing and I love Damian Lewis — check him out in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers and the PBS miniseries The Forsythe Saga.

30. Last person you went to dinner with
Like in a restaurant? Mr. Cecil’s with The Baron and another couple.

31. Who is your greatest love
The Baron, of course 🙂

32. What are your favorite colors
Blue hues, like indigo or a rich red. Also digging green yarn at the moment, as well as white.

33. How many tattoos do you have
Just one.

34. How many pets do you have
A school. But all the fish really belong to The Baron . . . so none, I guess?
35. Which came first, the chicken or the egg
I say fish . . . because didn’t we all come from the sea? And fish lay eggs . . .

37. Have you ever been to Hawaii
Only once . . . I was six months old when my parents took me and I was afraid of the sand.

38. Have you been to countries outside the U.S.
Yes: Canada, Mexico, Israel

40. Time this survey ended
4:12 pm

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. . . bootie buttons! I’ve never really needed buttons before, and I finished the booties a few minutes ago and had a moment of “oh, right, I need buttons, der . . .”

Lucky for me there is an awesome store on Pico called F&S Fabrics that has an amazing supply of buttons and a crazy button lady that just has a sixth sense about how to pick out the perfect fastener. Perhaps I’ll make a stop on the way home tonight . . .

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No, not a knitting machine like machine-knits, a knitting machine like wow, look at that girl knit!

An update . . .

– Dishtowels: Done, all except the weaving in, washing & blocking, and wrapping up.

– Blue baby booties: Bootie #1 halfway completed (and if work is slow this evening, I will be on bootie #2 before the day is done!)

– Tangled Yoke Cardigan: Swatches finished, washed & blocked, and measurements taken on dry fabric.  Now I’m just standing by for Dad to send me size information . . . I cannot wait to cast on!

– Kiki’s scarf:  Kiki is a friend of The Baron’s and asked if I would make a custom scarf — I completely forgot this project while making my WIP list, but in fairness I have neither the yarn nor a pattern, just a promise to knit something.  We’ve been looking around for not-outrageously-priced cashmere and today my “free swatching sample” arrived from Sarah’s Yarns, so of course I immediately cast on and worked up a quick (and oh-so-soft!) square.

– And finally, for myself, the sad, neglected yarn for my Hourglass sweater still sits, untouched, in my knitting bag.

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What goes with a quiet evening at home, watching a silent, peaceful tank of fish, better thank knitting?  Nothing.  I’ve gotten increasingly excited about the knitting in the past week . . . between friends and co-workers picking up needles for the first time and yarn shopping (including a KnitPicks order that showed up today!) I’m in knitting bliss.  The only problem: there are not enough hours in the day for all the knitting I want to do.

Up to now, I’ve thought of myself as a single-project knitter.  Sure, dragging the Frost Flowers & Leaves shawl all over creation was hardly practical, so I worked my Simple Socks over the summer too, bringing the socks along when an easy, portable, mindless project was called for.  The last time my dad visited we talked about the joy of completion — how satisfying it was to finish a project, and how that joy is something we have in common. 

If finishing a project is the best, starting a knitting project is the worst part.  There’s the picking out and purchasing of the yarn and pattern (fun), the researching for pattern errata and advice from other knitters (a good time-killer on slow days at work), the swatching (not so fun, duh) and the eventual cast-on and set-up (which can be a huge pain, though not always).  It just feels very labor-intensive, kind of a drag, and I can usually motivate myself to get started only by thinking about how cool the end-product will feel, all neat and folded up, ends woven in and ready to be gifted.

Suddenly, though, it feels like I’ve got Works-In-Progress everywhere, with no hope of finishing anything anytime soon.  Here’s how it started . . .

The Monkeys: Once the simple socks were done, I was all jazzed about getting another set of two-at-once toe-up socks started, so inspired by the internets and especially January One, I cast on for the Monkey socks (yeah, yeah, I’m a follower, what of it . . .) and got as far as the first repeat before things went south.  Yeah.  The socks are now hibernating, as Ravelry so delicately puts it . . .

Peacock Feathers: Wanting a break from lace, I got a whole bunch of cool sweaters and things together in my mind as “next” projects.  But sadly my fingers were faster than my knit-prep, and I soon realized that the only project that I a) wanted to knit and b) had pattern, needles and yarn for, close at hand, was Peacock Feathers.  So I cast on.  And then, proud of my progress and too lazy to put in a lifeline . . . disaster struck.

Charity squares & dishtowels: Since the whole Monkey thing didn’t pan out, I needed some quick, easy portable knitting.  Enter charity squares for work and dishtowels for The Baron’s sister in law, visiting shortly.  The charity squares are done, the dishtowels are coming along quickly . . . maybe too quickly . . .

Baby gifts: I am horrifyingly overdue on baby gifts . . . one child is now six months old and still has not gotten any hand-made love.  Shocking.  Another little girl was born last week, and a boy is expected in February.  To say nothing of The Baron’s little nephew, the tasty dumpling who will be visiting with his mom in the next few weeks . . . (ok, he got a blanket, but no booties!  The horror!)  To rectify this situation, I got a huge shipment of Knitpicks Swish DK (it arrived today – joy!) as well as the Blue Sky Alpacas cotton I picked up over the weekend.  Not actual, cast-on WIPs, but still . . . the prep has already begun.

Hourglass Sweater: I got a ton of Mission Falls 1824 Superwash to start this sweater for myself . . . and although I’ve been carrying a ball with me for two weeks now, I have yet to cast on for a swatch.

Tangled Yoke Sweater: What I’ve been itching to do, and the initial impulse behind the Peacock Feathers shawl, is a handknit for my stepmom.  Even though we’re both super-verbal people, I feel compelled, driven almost, to express my affection for her in the form of a hand-knit.  She signed off on the yarn (Jaggerspun Maine Line in French Blue), she likes the pattern (a simple but elegant cardigan by Eunny Jang from the latest Interweave Knits) , swatches are done, and I’m now just waiting for a final set of measurements so I can (hopefully) cast on for the correct size.

And finally, my very first non-bloggable 🙂

So looking over that list, I guess things aren’t that out of hand.  I just have so much I’m aching to knit!  Guess I should head home and get started . . .

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Gone Fishin’

Last night The Baron chided me for not keeping my blog more up-to-date and insisted that today, as penance, I post two entries.  So here goes . . . in honor of The Baron, and inspired by Mochimochi’s juxtaposition of yarn and fish, I give you the latest addition to our home: the living room fish tank.

Since before he got his house, The Baron has been planning for a huge, plant-filled freshwater fish tank. When we met he had two very small tank in his very small apartment, but he cared for his fish, Mr. Beta (RIP) and an unnamed goldfish, very diligently. I really love fish – I love water and the glassy look of colorful fins and leaves floating and rippling under the surface. The Baron eventually upgraded from a single beta to a larger, multi-beta tank, and even took a stab at breeding betas. Sadly, this experiment produced several very small and horribly misshapen fry that didn’t survive. Before he’d closed on his new home, he had already picked out the spot where the big tank would go. Almost a year later, the tank finally got ordered, arrived, and is now beginning to flourish.

The initial stages of set-up were fairly uneventful. First, he filled the tank with sand, fertilizer and gravel:

Then he tossed in the decorative wood:

To keep the tank happy and healthy, we installed two Fluval filters – the big one is mechanical (junk gets caught in a big hunk of foam), chemical (water passes through powdered charcoal) and biological (a fancy way of filtering using the bacteria from fish-poo to break down contaminants in the water), and the small one is just mechanical and biological. It should be noted here that I set up the filters – yay me!

I have to admit that I didn’t get really excited about the tank (because it didn’t get pretty) until it got filled up with water – but as soon as the water was in the tank was transformed. Here’s how it looked before the plants and fish took over – you can see the future occupants of the tank in plastic bags, in the top left corner, getting acclimated, as well as The Baron’s paw getting the wood settled in the proper spot:

And here are the fish taking their first swim among the plants:

After a week of adding plants and letting the water clear up, the tank has become an underwater paradise. Suddenly a room we hardly used (partly because the couches only showed up a month ago) is a room where we sit quietly together in the evenings, giving the “cycling” fish pinches of flakes and watching them swarm in a feeding frenzy. The hardy little swimmers are supposed to poo for a week or two, getting the biological filter up and running, before more delicate and more beautiful fish are added to the mix. I have to admit, though, we’ve had plenty of fun watching the “plain” fish swimming around – I especially love it when they dart through the little holes in the wood. I don’t know why, but I get a little thrill every time it happens, especially if they are “schooling” and go through the opening one after another. I envy the fish . . . I want to live here too:

I’ll sign off with one of my favorite of all the images we have of the tank, taken by The Baron, of course. It captures the liquid, tactile beauty of the animal moving through the water:

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