Saturday, October 30, 2004

Civic Duty

I guess that Superior Court House is trying to improve their image. The jury corral (there's some official word for the room in which we congregated, but I don't recall what it was.) was fairly nice, all things considered. There was plenty of comfortable seating, internet terminals, snack bars, pay phones, a TV, and outdated magazines. It's not unlike a doctor's waiting room, only much much larger and you know you won't be wearing a paper johnny when your name is called. We all finalized our paperwork and got the standard explanation of what would happen and what we needed to do. Then a judge gave us a speech about how fortunate we are to have the chance to do our civic duty and how he hopes we'll all have the opportunity to serve. We then watched TWO videos explaining how lucky we are to have the opportunity to do our civic duty and how it will change our lives and help us make new friends.

There were only two trials scheduled for civil court that day. The entire mob of potential jurors was split and sent to those two trails. My group was called second and because of our sheer number, we didn't even make it through the potential jury Q&A, so on Monday, I return for more. On the plus side, I was able to bring the lace for Bella P and completed one whole side and started the reverse lace as well.

I also finished the sleeves that evening when I returned home. I'm a "finish while you work" kind of knitter, so having completed both sleeves, I decided to seam what I have so far and make sure it's all going to fit.

I’ve pinned the lace into place just to give you an idea of how it’ll all work together.

Here's a close-up of the lace and how it reverses to go down the opposite side.

Once I finish the lace, I'll knit the rest of the piece down from the provisional cast on. I'm not binding off the lace on either side so I can simply pick those stitches up with the rest.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Stash Shuffle

Well, it'll be a short post today because I'm up a couple hours earlier than usual to go to jury duty. I normally have to be at work at 10, but jury duty starts at 7:30 'round these parts. I hear it's very in keeping with the Hollywood theme and I can expect to "hurry up and wait" all day long. Their website says that plastic knitting needles are ok, though the phone message says "no knitting needles or other weapons". I'm guessing the phone message is just trying to keep things simple in the interest of time.

But, it hasn't all been government red tape and waking up at 5 in the morning, oh no. In fact, it's been a bit of PURPLE tape. I took Carrie up on her offer of yarn for sale and my stash enhancement arrived while I was at work yesterday. It's yummy and super fine! Thanks Carrie.

Some of you may have noticed that I did a little self-portrait for my blog banner. I haven't decided if I'm going to keep it. I like Panda, I'm not so sure that I'm digging the "me" part of it. We'll see, maybe it will grow on me. Leo says it's a good likeness except I made myself too tan. I told him I needed SOME contrast against the white background of the site. I think he was just ribbing me for being ghostly pale.

Ok, I must get some food and coffee in me.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Bella Paquita

Thanks for the name suggestions for the paco piece, she's now officially known as Bella Paquita, which I think has a nice ring to it.
And on the topic of Bella Paquita (who has the unfortunate initials: BP) I've made some progress on the sleeves and lace.

Obviously, the sleeves are in sorry need of some blocking. They won't be big ol' mutton chop sleeves or anything.

As a public service announcement, I'm providing some additional information to all of you, for this most sacred of holiday seasons.
Wear head protection, via Dave Barry

Stay informed, via Something Awful.

Wear bright, reflective colors.

And of course, keep a sense of humor.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

That hat

Melly, whose cat may be Panda's long lost cousin, asked if my new hat pattern could be worked in Koigu. Comparing my current stash of Koigu KPM to the yarn I used in the hat, it appears that the two are a great match. The Koigu is wool, so the hat will have even more natural stretch and the pattern is such that even if the gauge changes a little, the ribbing will ensure that the hat still fits pretty snuggly. I say it's a good choice, but you may still want to consider making a gauge swatch and at least try to get a ballpark match which may mean going up or down a needle size.

In other knitting new (Yes, can you believe it? There's more than one bit of knitting news in my knitting blog. May wonders never cease.) I'm making some nice, though slow progress on the Paco piece. I really need a name for this sucker. Any suggestions?

What you see here is the main body pieces, above the empire waist, the beginnings of two sleeves and 8 repeats of the lace. There will be 12 repeats on each side. I find this lace very slow to knit, but I think it will be worth it, in the end. You can see that the sleeves are worked in ribbing, right now. It's a k3, p2 ribbing which I plan to work for several inches until the sleeve would reach the point where the empire waist starts (I'm thinking bottom-up). Then I'll work in STst. I'm also thinking that the rest of the top, from the empire waist, down, will be worked in this same rib pattern. I like the idea of the ribbing, to ensure a nice fit, but I'm worried it will be too busy with the lace. I think I'll have a better idea of how it'll work once I finish and install the lace and the sleeves. I'll add those before beginning the rest of the body, which will be picked up and knit down from the empire waist.

My goal for the work week is to try to get the pattern worked out to reverse that lace pattern and, hopefully, finish all the repeats for one side and start knitting the second side. I don't think I'll make much progress of note until the weekend, because knitting times are few and far between, but we'll see.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Pismo Hat

The Pismo pattern is now available.

Click Leo's cute face to get to the pattern.
As always, feel free to let me know if you have any problems or questions.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Her Story

Well, it appears that my pup is far more interesting than my knitting, so here is her gratuitous display of cuteness from last night.

This is one of her favorite things to do. She gets up on the couch, schootches up right next to you, pushes off her front feet, makes her body stiff, and lets herself drop into a human sitting position, leaning against your arm. It's hard to describe and harder to believe, but I swear, we do not need to coax her into this position, she does it all on her own. We were both completely shocked the first time she did it, and I think we responded so lovingly that she had done it ever since, just to make us smile. So I was plugging away on the computer, only to walk over to my honeys and see them sitting like that, watching the boob tube.

People have asked a little bit about Panda, so I'm going to give you her story, inasmuch as we know it.

Nearly three years ago, Leo and I quit our jobs in Boston and moved to LA. We didn't have anything lined up, just a small amount of savings and a desire to get to sunny California. Leo had ferrets, but had really wanted a dog. I was not a "pet person" but I was willing to give it a shot, presuming that said doggy would be all Leo's responsibilities and I'd simply put up with him or her.

We made the drive, arrived in California, and got ourselves settled. My friend, Chrissy, who is an animal trainer, knew that we were in the market for a pup and said she had a dog she thought would be "perfect" for us. She is a Border Collie mix from a litter of puppies they'd taken in for a commercial. Border Collies don't make good set dogs, because they easily startle and don't tend to like strangers. Houston, as she was known, was no exception. Born to a Border Collie mom on a farm, the dad was one of a couple of intact dogs in the neighborhood, either another Border Collie or an Australian Cattle-dog. Since her brothers and sisters all looked decidedly Cattle-dog like, even while Houston looked more like the other Border Collie, it's presumed that the Cattle-dog was the father.

The farmer rented his unexpected litter of pups for the commercial, when tragedy struck, the entire litter of pups as well as a second litter were stricken with Parvo a disease that often kills puppies. Luckily, every last puppy survived, but it was touch and go for a while. The farmer had never wanted the puppies to start with, so he asked the ranch to purchase the puppies from him, which they did, despite the fact that none of the dogs were likely to ever work in the industry again. Luckily, these pups were so sweet and charming that they were all quickly placed in loving homes. When we arrived in LA, the last of the puppies was waiting to be placed.

Leo and I went to the ranch and Houston was brought out to meet us. Instead of running off in fear, she came over for some affection and eventually curled up in Leo's lap. This is highly unlike her and to this day, we've never seen her take so quickly to strangers. We adopted her on the spot, renamed her "Panda," and have loved her ever since.

I went from being indifferent to dogs to falling head of heals for my little girl.

Ok, in knitting news, take a look at how my Paco piece is coming along

Yup, I ripped it out. I think the gauge changed too much once the weight of the fabric increased. The swatch just didn't reflect the final gauge. I took a new gauge reading from the piece as it was before ripping, and reworked the pattern. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I also bought myself a little Koigu, yesterday.

The purple is actually a deep deep eggplant color and the three look really nice together. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, but I am so in love with this yarn. Oh, the best part is, I got to use my ball winder AND my new swift.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Great Googily Moogily

My dog is SO cute.

We were sitting around, watching TV and Leo decided to use my teddy bear, Schlepp, as a pillow. Panda pops up on the couch and makes herself comfortable, head to head with Leo, and proceeds to pass out cold.

Do I hear a collective "awwwwww" from my friends out there?

But it doesn't stop there.

She isn't just passed out on Schlepp, she goes in and out of solid, dreaming, leg twitching sleep. Every time I try to snap a picture, she flutters her eyes open and gives me that "Oh, MOM" look, but I can't help myself. Could you?

This lasted several hours making it exceedingly hard to get any knitting done. She's just so cute. It's one thing to fall asleep, but when she snuggles up with a teddy bear, that's just too cute for words.

As for knitting, I haven't made much progress because I've been trying to find the perfect lace for my Paco piece. I have knit and torn out a dozen different edgings. Finally, I found one that seems to fit the look I'd like

It's exactly the right width, feminine without being too froofy, a little bit airy, without lacking body. I think I'm happy. Now I just need to chart the pattern so I can reverse it. It's a uni-directional lace so I think it would look nicer if it mirrored itself on either side of the piece.

Oh, one last note, for those of you who might still be interested in purchasing my little cartoon characters on items, I've added some pins and magnets, which are under $5.00.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Who are you today

Maybe if you had the right underwear, you'd know.
A lovely woman, with whom I've been corresponding via email, gave me the glorious idea of doing day of the week underwear with my knitter cartoons. I wish she had a site to link to but she doesn't so I'll just give a public "hello" and "thank you" to Michelle from here.

Click either image to link to the whole line of products.

CafePress doesn't offer any type of cool package option, so if you like 'em you have to order them individually. If you don't like them, that's fine too, I understand. Now, if we can only convince them to offer the underwear in other colors....

Happiness is a ball winder

I finally gave myself a ball winder. I've been winding my own wonky balls of yarn forever, but now, I have the most beautiful yarn muffins and I just can't stop.

I've made a little progress on my Paco top. I'm pretty happy with the shape, but I'm not so sure if the fit will be right. It seems a little big right now. I don't like too much ease in my clothing because it tends to just look sloppy on me. We'll see, it wouldn't be the first time I had a frogging party.

I'm also playing around with some lace options, I'm thinking about a simple leaf design with a bit of extra seed stitch to give it the 2-3" width I need. I'll try to get a sample knitted and posted soon.

Panda wanted me to thank all her admirers for their well wishes. She’s just wondering when she gets to go back and show her big watery playmate who’s boss around here.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Weekend Wrap-Up

We brought Panda to Palos Verdes this weekend for some play time in the ocean. This beach is pretty close to our home, and we've enjoyed our many past visits there. This little girl is fearless which is one of the things we love about her, but this weekend, she put our love for that fearlessness to the test. We were walking along the rocky coast, tossing this and that into the water for her to run after. She has no interest in fetch unless it involves running through the surf, and will actually take the scenic route through the water if you neglect to choose that path for her, by tossing an item on terra ferma. So, off she was running when a wave picked her up and started dragging her back. I'm a bit startled and worried, but this is nothing new for my favorite twosome, until a second wave comes crashing down on the little black and white pup, twisting her upside-down and backwards in a manner that has convinced both her parents that they will need to call upon her daddy's life guarding skills. Seconds pass like years as we assess the situation, ready to leap into the water if need be, when out bounds little Panda, soaked and pleased as punch. We both try to act nonchalant while we check for missing pieces, or other signs of damage on our girl. She is wagging and ready for more, making a bee-line for the shore again.
Leo looks at me, I look at him, we're both white and a little queasy from the experience. He says, "I think I want to go home now." and I don't disagree. Panda is looking for an excuse to go for another dip, but we call her back to us and begin the trek back up the hill to the car. Of course, like any red-blooded doggy, she feels a good dip in the ocean, can only be completed by a nice shake and bake in the sand.

Palos Verdes sand appears to have a lot of sulfur and iron in it, as the cliffs show layers of rich yellow and deep rusty red, all dissolving into a lovely ochre colored sand. I think Panda wears it well. As you can see, she's no worse for the wear. Don't worry, we'll still take her back to the beach, we'll just be a bit more careful when playing fetch.

As for Leo's new hat, I have pictures of me wearing it, but hope to get his sweet mug for the pattern. I think he makes a better model.

The colors make it look a lot like the nautilus hat, especially with my head in it, but the hats are pretty different. Instead of the spiral shaping, this uses double decreases at each shaping point to ensure the ribbing is uninterrupted. Leo loves that there are no seams and I like that the ribbing makes it a great one-size-fits-many design.

The pattern should be available some time this week.

Finally, a couple of folks have inquired about my quiz and where I fit in the spectrum. To be honest, I related to every last description, on some level. I may be past the novice and apprentice stages but I remember them well. I like to think I have a little of all of them in me. How’s that for an indirect answers? Must be the presidential debates wearing off on me.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


All I can say is "wow". I didn't realize so many people would like, or take my quiz. Quizilla tells you how many people have taken your quiz and I'm at well over 2000 in just a couple days. Cool!

So a bunch of you asked for merchandise with my graphics. Cafepress offers a 15 day trial for their full service. I've gone ahead and set up a store there where you can get items with the illustrations on them. After 15 days, it'll cost me money to keep the store open, so if no one buys anything, I'll close the store, but if you guys buy enough stuff to pay the monthly charge, I'll leave the store open and keep adding stuff, when I can.

Check out the store here.

I finished Leo's hat and will have pictures up soon. He appears to like it and since it's marginally different than my other hats for men, I'll post a pattern for it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I'm a dork

Yup, I'm a dork and as a dork I've felt a pressing need to make an online quiz.
So, for all of you out there who have nothing better to do, feel free to take my quiz on what kind of knitter you are.
I'll apologize now for the fact that this presumes a female knitter. It's not meant to insult the guys out there, I just don't know enough of you to be able to stereotype you properly. ;o)

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

Mel and Steve

Some of you may remember that I attended a wedding a couple months ago. Here are some pictures from the event. It was held on a nature preserve in Vermont. The bride and groom are Mel[issa] and Steve. Their local bartender/internet order minister presided over the ceremony.

I think, when the day was done, they were pleased with how it went and entirely ready to head out to their honeymoon in Hawaii.

Here are a couple of pictures of me, in my shrug thing I made for the affair. The only thing I wish I had time to do was to make a flower or something to cover the spot where the piece closed on the side. I don't think it looks horrible, but it just doesn't look finished to me.

Just a note, while you are looking at those lovely flowers, the wife of the minister did all the flowers for the wedding and I think they are just stunning.

In knitting news, there is truly nothing to show. I haven't been able to knit at work for a few days because of meetings and the like. My boss has officially resigned and came in to say goodbye to everyone, yesterday. She left for maternity leave in June or July, and just decided not to come back. Now she's off to Minnesota with her husband, son, and golden retriever and I'm boss-less. I'll actually miss her, quite a bit, she's been great fun to work with. You know I’m not kissing arse, either, because she’s not my boss anymore.

I will be heading down to San Diego to visit my parents who are vacationing there, and I suspect I'll do some knitting in that time, so prepare for some updates in a couple days.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Ribbing Ennui

Knit one, purl one, repeat.
75 times per round (150 stitches per round)
11 rounds per inch
4.5 inches
Total = 7425 stitches so far

But who's counting?

I was beginning to feel like I couldn't stand to work this thing any longer. It felt like it was just mocking me, round after round, without growth. "No one will think I worked this, I'll put it on my blog and it will look just like the previous picture." I thought to myself.

Well, "kiss my grits," I say, because looking back through my previous post, it does, indeed, appear longer. Hoorah!

This may make progress a little more likely, but even the prolific author of Fluffa! comments on the mind numbing effect of eternal ribbing. No wonder man invented the knitting machine.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very pleased with how the hat is progressing but I cannot work ribbing in the continental manner when it's in the round. Since the stitches are now oriented the opposite way, I find the technique nearly impossible. I work in the Combined method which is absolutely wonderful for working ribbing flat, but I wanted Leo's hat to be perfect, so it's jogless and seamless. Oh, what we do for love.

To give my poor, over-ribbed brain a break, I've started working with the Paco yarn.

It's only 12 rows long and it's been pulled out and reworked once, already. Just as a funny little side note, Paco and Leo's hat are both the same number of stitches per row/round.

As you may be able to tell, I've worked a provisional cast-on for this piece. I'm starting the piece from the empire waist on up, then I'll work the sleeves and the lace, and whatever yarn I have left, I can use for the rest of the piece, worked from the empire waist on down. I want the piece to go to my hips, if possible, but I'm not sure I have enough yarn. Working in this method should allow me to maximize my yarn usage. I'm also working the front and back at the same time, it takes a little longer to finish a row, but I save myself a lot of time in the seaming process.

As another bit of trivia, here's how I write up my patterns for myself

I find it impractical to read through a whole pattern row's instruction when I only care about the location of increases and decreases. This is a section of my notes for the point from the empire waist to the armhole bind-off. The edge stitches are indicated in the left-hand column and the stitch markers are indicated in the second column.

So, on row 11, I have a decrease on each end of the round and an increase on each side of the two stitch markers (indicating the side seams).

The last thing that I'll leave you with today are some pictures from Leo's drive from San Francisco back down here to LA. He was up there for a couple days last week and took these pictures to show me what I was missing. The pictures are from the coast in the SF area and from Big Sur.

Check 'em out.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


I can't post any of my own pictures today, because Leo's in San Francisco on a job interview for a couple of days. He brought the camera along with him to snap pictures of all the things I'm missing because I'm down here in LA. He has already procured some chocolate for me and will be picking up some sourdough bread on his way home, so I won't feel completely left out. It's probably just as well that I don't have the camera, I'd gladly snap a shot of the hat progress, but I don't think any of you would be that impressed. When you get about 11 rows to the inch, and only have about 30 minutes to an hour a day to knit, progress is uninspiring. I do hope to have enough time this weekend to finish the hat, though.

I think I've found some inspiration for my stash of Paco.
Click on image for larger view:

This sweater is from Newport News. While I have been getting their catalog for years, I have two complaints about their stuff.

  1. I am a small but not petite woman. I'm 5''5" and about 125 lbs. By many mid-ranged store standards I'm a sized medium, or maybe a small, wearing about a size 5-7. Newport News generally offers clothing down to size 4 and I swim in them. Their only clothing that ever fits me is generally from their Boutique Europa collection, if they offer the item in a size 2 and even that can be roomy for me. I suppose I'm not complaining, except that I really just end up buying stuff from there that I can never wear.

  2. If you buy anything from them, you will get multiple catalogs from them EVERY WEEK. I kid you not, I will get the same catalog with a different cover three or four times a month. Each will have a slightly different promotional offer on the front, but is otherwise the same. They kill more trees than any company I've ever bought from.

Because of this, I generally don't buy from them anymore, or if I do, I simply buy shoes. But, I have been eyeing this sweater for a while now. I think I want to work the same concept into a sweater of my own.
Things I like:

  1. Lace around neckline with slight overlap

  2. Very fitted silhouette

  3. Deep low cut v-neck

  4. Length

  5. Empire waist

Things I don't particularly like:

  1. The seam at the empire waist. I might do a little lace there, but not an exposed seam like that

  2. The rows of double crochet below the empire waist

  3. The sleeves

I'm not sure what I think of the puffed sleeve cap. I'm leaning towards not liking it.

What I think I will do is keep the general neck treatment and work up some lace that I like. I'll probably do a 3/4 sleeve instead of a full length deal and drop the puffed sleeve all-together.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Some Fun Stuff

For those of you who read yesterday's post, you'll find that Leo has left a comment. I love a guy who laugh off the absurd in this world.

Not much to post in knitting news today, just a couple more rounds done on the hat, so I'll leave you with some fun non-knitting links.

My new favorite site is The Sneeze. I nearly spit coffee all over myself after reading the Steve, Don't Eat It! series.

If you haven't found Cockeyed, you owe it to yourself to give it a look-see. The whole site is great, but he's known for his How Much Is Inside series.

Finally, my definitive source for movie reviews, Mr. Cranky. His review ratings range from "Almost Tolerable" to "Proof that Jesus died in vain." For a full list of available reviews, check out this page.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Tales of Leo

I got a call at work from Leo, who was sounding both amused and confused. He had just gone to get his hair cut at a place within walking distance from our house. He's been going to this guy since we moved to this apartment a year ago and had liked his work. He was quick and no-nonsense and really affordable. The results were always good, so there was no reason to trek out to Melrose Ave or Beverly Hills for a haircut.
While I do love to get a call from Leo, during the day, I did wonder how much there was to discuss about his haircut. The story went a little something like this:

"So I was getting my hair cut and the guy starts giving me a massage [editor's note: some of the nicer salons will give scalp and neck massages on slow days, nothing weird there.] He starts working my back but then moves up under my shirt and begins working my chest. [editor's note: um, that's a little weird.] I try asking him a few questions like: "So are you going to school for massage?" to which the guy replies, "Oh yes, I need 50 more hours to graduate." Having never had a massage, I figured the guy knew what he was doing and I just tried to relax. I started to wonder, though, as his hands headed towards the "red light district." He skirts the perimeter but still, he's getting a bit close for comfort. Then, he moves his hands over the groin, outside my pants, and begins pressing down. So my question to you is, is that supposed to happen in a massage or is this like that Friend's episode where Joey's tailor goes for a cup and feel while measuring his inseam?"

I'm having a little trouble breathing between laughs and explain that standard massage might involve some tush rubbing but should never cross over into the genetalia. Leo got felt up at his hair appointment. What I love about Leo, though, is that he just laughs it off. Granted, he'll never frequent that establishment again, but he still sees the humor in the whole thing.

In knitting news, that's still topical to our subject today, I'm working on a hat for my Leo. While he's been every supportive of my knitting and even wore my most pathetic first attempt at a hat pattern, he is, nevertheless, quite picky about what he'll wear. He prefers fine gauges knits that aren't too warm (we do live in LA, after all) and prefers soft and luxurious yarns.

While the yarn is simply cotton, here, it's worked on US #2 needles in 1x1 ribbing in the round. Leo designed the stripe layout. I'm also employing a jogless stripe technique that I really like. This is the one I've been using. The long and short of it is, you simply start your new stripe in a different spot. So, you knit to the end of your main color round, snip your yarn if needed, slip to a few stitches away and start your new color, finishing at the new starting point. Repeat for all subsequent stripes.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Drake the Dreaded

The dragon backpack is done and I've named him "Drake the Dreaded." I'll be shipping him off to the book's author in the next couple of days. If you visit my blog at all, you may remember the post in which I put up my original sketch for the piece. As you can see, the concept is largely the same but the piece has definitely evolved. This is true of almost everything I do. Even when I feel pretty certain where I'm going with a project, I tend to adjust as I go.

For all of you who gave me your thoughts on teaching left handed folks to knit, thanks. It sounds like most left handed folks feel that it’s fine, if not preferable to learn “right handed” but suggest teaching the continental method. If I do want to teach someone to knit with their left hand, then I can either sit across from them or use a mirror.

And for those of you who think my dog is cute, well, she sends a wet cold nose in your ear at 6 in the morning, and she means it with all the love in the world.

She also posed for this glamour shot:

We would take a lot fewer pictures if she'd do less cute things. Damn her!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Keeping me honest

When I first started this blog, several months ago, I promised to write a pattern for this

I then, promptly neglected to do so.
Well, at the behest of a stranger, I finally got off my tush and put the pattern to pixel. You can find it here.


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