New job, pretty yarn

Want to see my extravagant new yarn?

It’s two skeins of Cherry Tree Hill Silk & Merino DK, in Green Mountain Madness. It’s *deeply* gorgeous, and it feels amazing. Once I’m done admiring it in the skein, (and probably once the Olympics are over) it will become a clapotis. 🙂 So, you ask, what could have happened to the girl who usually tries to complete sweaters for less than $40, to have made her drop twice that for one lone scarf?

This is celebrational yarn, because I just signed a contract on a job that I’ve wanted for a long, long time! Some people do a fancy dinner out, some people buy expensive electronics, and I splurged on yarn. In two weeks, I’ll be starting as a Programmer Writer at Microsoft, and I think that’s worth of a bit of loveliness. Plus, I have a hunch that I’ll need a nice, easy pattern in a soft, pretty yarn to come home to — the learning curve for the first few weeks looks rather steep, and I sense my brain will appreciate the break. 🙂 So, cheers to dream jobs!

Back in the saddle

Now that the socks and pillows are out of the way, the next project on the list is finally finishing the purple cable sweater. I lost momentum when I realized I didn’t have enough yarn to finish, and by the time I found more (same dye lot, no less!), I’d forgotten where I was in the cable chart. So last night before bed, I took fifteen minutes to re-find my place and knit a few rows to get back in the swing. I have two thirds of the right front and under one third of the left front left to go. Once those two pieces are finished, I just have to block and seam. There are no finishing details except for sewing on the four buttons.

Now that I am past my knitter’s block, I’m completely remembering why I loved this yarn and project to begin with. The Lambs Pride Bulky is heavenly to work with — soft and squishy, and the inches fly by. I’m hoping to have this done too before the Olympics start and I have to put it down again. A second time-trial?

More than you ever wanted to know about pillows

Yesterday, with the help of a wonderful librivox recording of A Little Princess (one of my childhood — and for that matter, adulthood — favourites), I went on a pillow-making spree. A bit ago, Kevin moved all of his computer and tech stuff downstairs and we moved the futon upstairs, and I made it as far as buying some bar stools to covert into ottomans, painting them, and draping quarter yard cuts of fabric all over everywhere before the holidays hit and I lost momentum. On Thursday night, I finally took the sewing machine back out and started working again. I finished the full set of pillows at the beginning of the final chapter. Perfect timing.

There are two kinds of pillows: two round ones for atop the stool-ottomans, and two square ones for the futon. My major objectives in making these were (1) arts and crafts project! (2) to make the ottomans more comfortable, and (3) to tie together the different/clashing-blues butterfly chairs and futon cover. I also have a lovely throw on the futon which is different shades of periwinkle, and I wanted to play off that.

Unfortunately (keep this in mind as you view the pictures), my camera just can’t deal with that purple-blue periwinkle color, so it looks like I am a color-blind mess. It’s such a pity, because they turned out so well, but the pictures just didn’t come out. I’m sure the fact that the flash was required (even in daylight! Seattle winters are wearing on me.) doesn’t help, but you’ll have to imagine that everything goes. Here’s the view of the futon:

(Keep in mind that the stool legs should match the piping, and the pillows perfectly pick up the different periwinkles in the throw.)

For the square pillows, I used the striping pattern from Crate and Barrel’s Brighton Pillows. I’m thrilled with the way they turned out, and Kevin’s been raving about how you can’t buy anything this nice in stores (:-) !!), so they were an unqualified success.

I used a pretty wide range of fabrics, including silk and corduroy. If I had to choose fabrics again, the corduroy probably wouldn’t have made it in, but the color and texture at least match the throw perfectly. Many of the fabrics were very slippery, so the seams were reasonably time intensive due to all of the pins needed.

The round pillows are far less professional looking. I made my own piping, out of the shiny periwinkle fabric that I used for the slim stripes in the square pillows. I then tried to cut foam to match the top of the stools. (Cutting 2.5″ foam into a perfect circle is so hard!! I have no idea how you’re supposed to do it, and my attempts were pretty ugly.) Then I cut fabric to make a short cylinder of a pillow, with a slit in the back to put the foam in. This was really hard to do without making the fabric bunch, and I spent as much ripping back as I did pinning and sewing. Once the covers were all assembled, I used the *so* cool automatic buttonhole maker attachment for my sewing machine to make four pairs of button holes in the bottom of each cushion, and threaded 1/4″ organza ribbon through them to make ties to hold the cushions on to the chair.

The end result is definitely homemade, not the crisp loveliness of my mind’s eye, but they’re functional and colorful.

(again, remember that the piping and paint are in reality a perfect match, not the grisly aqua and purple shown above. eek.)

I feel so accomplished. 🙂 On to the next project!

A Successful Time Trial

Your eyes are not deceiving you — this is, in fact, a completed pair of socks:

Now that I’m flush with victory, the process (all thirteen and a half months of it) really wasn’t that bad. I’m not sure another pair of vanilla rib socks are in my near future, but I’m suprised to find that I enjoyed the home stretch.

I used the “Plain Rib Socks” pattern from the Patons classics Winter Warmth booklet (#500977 HH, if you’re really interested). The construction seems really solid and they fit Kevin well, but the name really says it all. I used Patons Kroy yarn, and did the first sock on four #2 DPNs and the second using magic loop on a 32″ Addi Turbo. After having tried the Addi’s, I doubt I will ever use DPNs again (they are *SO* fidgety!), but I’m happy to have tried both.

Now on to the Knitting Olympics!

Happy Belated Birthday, Clowns

All that’s left on the sock is 14 stitches worth of kitchener and weaving in 2 ends, so while you wait with bated breath for that, want to see a great picture of Click?

He’s our mellow fish. The gramma is cranky, Clack (our other clown) is curious and loves to eat, but Click just sort of hangs out and keeps an eye on the shrimp for us. I was amazed to realize that we’ve now had them for over a year.

We are definitely seeing a marked size difference between the two clowns. For those who didn’t know, clownfish are protandrous hermaphrodites, which means that over their lifetime they gradually change from gender-neutral to male to female. Given two males, they will duke it out so that one stays male and the other gets to become the dominant female — it’s clear which is which, because the female is about three times the size of the male and much more aggressive. Clack is definitely becoming the female, and Click shows submissive behaviour like twitching (which was scary until we read about it as a developmental norm.)

Standing Corrected

Logic kicked in on Wednesday afternoon when I realized that I was planning to knit a scarf with only 216 yards of yarn. Hmm. I’m really not clear how much yarn a scarf knit at 5 stitches per inch should consume, but my research (thank you, internet) suggests that for a 7″ scarf in more-or-less stockinette, I will need about 400 yards.

Since my knitting group has switched back to Bellevue now that the holiday traffic has thinned out it was on the way to visit Hilltop East, where I bought the two original skeins. I raced there (if you can call sitting in traffic at every light racing… ah, Seattle), squeezed in the door thirty seconds before they closed, and found that they did in fact have two more skeins of my color. I should have called ahead, but since I didn’t, this all felt miraculous. I’d decided on the ride over to just ignore the dye lot — dangerous for red, but I bought the original skeins over two months ago, and I figured that I could use dye lot A for the ends, and B for the middle, and it would work.

So it was very exciting to get home and realize that they all shared the same lot number. This project is blessed. 🙂

And only two more inches before the toe decreases for the sock. There’s a Puget Sound Aquarium Society lecture on Nano tanks on the Olympic peninsula, so I’m hoping that between car and ferry time, I may be able to finish! 🙂

How Neat

In the course of my travels, I came across the neatest site today: It’s a volunteer project to make audio recordings of books in the public domain. Especially for the non-tv-watching knitters out there, this could be a bonanza. 🙂 My mom (and for a few books, my dad) read aloud before bed until I reached high school, and it always used to double as knitting or sewing time. I haven’t listened to the recordings to gauge their quality, but it would be fun on non-Grey’s Anatomy nights to have a book to listen to. I’ve tried listening to the online books available from my public library, but so far it’s seemed more of a hassle than it’s worth (mostly due to the search capabilities of the website — too hard to find anything interesting).

In light of the extremely interesting copyright discussion tonight in my knitting group, plus a general desire to do the right thing, I’m hoping that their interpretation of public domain is accurate — can anyone with a better sense of copyright law/internet karma/publishing rules comment?

Unfortunately, I’m in the midst of job and school applications which require my attention*, so this will be a more exciting find in a week or two once I have a bit more luxury time in the evenings. In the meantime, I’m hoping that more of the works in progress are finished — there are some great options listed.

* Know of any technical writing jobs in the Seattle area? I’m very interested.

Faster, Higher, Stronger

As I’m sure all of the knitters in the known world are aware, the Yarn Harlot recently decided to host a Knitting Olympics. While speed knitting is not generally my forte, this quest sounded wildly appealing (not only will I start and maybe finish a project, but it will be community-oriented and provide blog fodder! awesome!). I signed up with the following comment:

I have a red beaded scarf (yarn, beads and pattern) that has been sitting and waiting for me to finish my first pair of socks… So, a dual challenge: first the time trial to get on the team (I’m just through the heel turn on sock #2, there’s hope), then the olympic knitting effort itself. I’m even color-appropriate: blue socks and red scarf (go USA!), and the red can do dual service as a tribute to our host country, Canada. 🙂

So that it’s clear what I’m working with, here’s the sock status as of about 11 pm last night:

I am actually making excellent progress, and am finally on the straight-away after the heel turn so I can knit while I read without stopping to count.

The project that has been calling to me is a variation on the Cascading Diamonds Scarf from Knitting with Beads. (This picture from the very neat google books is the only one I could find — the purple project in the upper left corner shows the bead detail.) I’m going to use my red Cotton Classic that I bought with the gift certificate my brother and sister gave me for Christmas last year, plus three colors of beads. I can’t wait to start.

This picture was taken at night, and as usual with red, isn’t completely true to the colors — it real life the yarn is a little bit darker and a bit less fluorescent. I love the way they look together.

Does stringing the beads count as starting?

Zoo News

Our orange zoos took a tumble yesterday, and when I went to replace them I realized that two little faces had spread onto the bottom rock and with the fall were now separated. I don’t know whether it’s stress or (hopefully!) a permanent change, but the two new guys have much darker centers than their older counterparts. The original zoos’ centers are concentric rings of lavendar and tan, and the new are very dark brown and a deeper lavendar. The outside fringe is also more brown than bright orange.

You can see the difference here:

The picture on the right is looking down on them from above, so it’s far less clear due to surface water movement, but you can really see the difference from a distance. The new zoos are down and to the left of the big zoo rock. (If you look closely, you can also see an earlier group of orange zoos to the top left of the main rock, and a small group of yellow and pink sunflower zoos to the lower right.)

This Ought to Satisfy Everybody

At knitting on Wednesday night, a certain someone described her feelings on clicking through to my blog as “Please not a fish post…. damn!” So, since this is in essence a fish post, I will first placate the knitters with a picture of kevin’s second sock, now at 5 5/8″. 🙂 Ooooh:

You would practically think my needles had wings.

And now onto the mysterious and wonderful world of the fishtank…

We’ve known for a while now that we have a rogue crab living in our rocks, which was hairy, seemed to eat algae, and definitely was not intentionally introduced to the tank. Usually you can see a hairy leg or two in one of the center rock’s crevices, and at night once the lights are out, you can even see his claws. (As a former ocean swimmer who used to keep her feet up lest a crab run over them, crabs still aren’t really my thing…) Since coming home from the PA Christmas trip, though, I hadn’t caught a glimpse of him and feared the worst. Yesterday, I came home from work to find this guy upside down in the sand next to the sunflower zoos:

I’ve been sad since — I liked our mystery crab, in a not-wanting-to-touch-him sort of way. But last night, what did I glimpse while feeding the crew but a hairy leg in a familiar hole in the rock… So we had two?! Kevin’s afraid that they mated and one killed the other, and now we’ll have dozens — is that just a spider thing, or do crazy hairy crabs do it too? And does anyone have the slightest clue what kind of crab this is and whether it’s actually reefsafe?