Friday, April 29, 2011

I love old buildings.

Yesterday was a long day. Instead of going to the office, I attended the Vacant, Abandoned & Underutilized Property Summit, sponsored by the local government (sounds scintillating, don't it?). It was 6.5 hours of non-stop problem identification and problem solving. Our conclusions, in a nutshell: vacant property is a problem in our fair city, bankers & out of town tax lien purchasers are the bad guys and there Has To Be A Better Way. The Summit was a good start, and I think if we can get that kind of creative brainpower together again, with enough time to formulate concrete strategies, we can go a long way toward improving our blighted neighborhoods. (Damn, I'm such a freakin' optimist & do-gooder.)

Aside from all the great ideas we came up with at the Summit, one of the best things about it was that it was at Memorial Auditorium, an 80+ year-old theatre and ballroom. It has all kinds of great architectural detail. I've been to a few conferences here lately and I never seem to have had my camera with me. I made up for it this time!

Every time I pass this drinking fountain, I want to take a picture of it. It's brass and the water comes out of the dolphin's mouth. Or it would if the water were still turned on. There is also an awesome Greek key pattern along the sides, with a corinthian capital  and acanthus leaves. Gorgeous!

The ceilings in one of the side rooms are the original figured plaster, with medallions and egg-and-dart mouldings. It must be some kind of trick to keep it in good repair. I also love the mid-1920's relief above the exits from the auditorium. They are exactly what you'd expect to see in a place that was built to remember WWI veterans.

Another reason it felt like a long day is that last night was the last Stitch 'N' Bitch at my LYS, the Knit Nook. Tomorrow is the last day the store will be open, except for the final blowout on Oaks & Derby days. It makes me sad. I'm not much of a cryer, but I will miss this:

And this:

The shop was open until 9pm, but a few of us loitered a little longer, hoping it wasn't really the end. There was food and beer; gossip, bitching and joking; laughter and tears. A lot like a regular SnB night, but this time with a touch of the bittersweet. I know most of these women (and a few men) will remain in my life, even if I see them less often. I'll just have to work a little harder to make it so. The shop has been fantastic and I'll miss it very much. I'm not sure when I'll be able to bring myself to a new shop. At least I have a little yarn to last me awhile.

That's all I've got for this time. I have, indeed, turned the heel of the Vacation socks, but I forgot to take pics while I had good light. We'll save it for next time. Until then, friends.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Progress Report

Well, it seems like an age since I posted actual knitting progress, but before I do, I'll write a little about the porch furniture refinishing adventure. One of my friends at the yarn shop asked me, "How's the stripping going?" That got a few laughs from around the room, since everyone pretty much did a double take, then remembered that, as a matter of fact, I was stripping. Stripping porch furniture, anyway.

Good Friday was a day off work for me, and I had a few errands to run, so by mid-afternoon I was ready to apply the citrus-scented stripper. Once I got the chair completely coated, I did a little test scraping, to see how long I should wait. It revealed two colors: blue just below and orange below the blue (in the stamped areas I found white). Exciting! Since I had another errand to run, I left it for a few more hours and checked again, but it still needed to steep.

The next morning, I went at the chair in earnest, scraping away. After about two hours or so, I was able to break out the steel wool, so I could get in the crevices in the stamped area. Many, many steel sheepies have had to go naked for this project, and many more will in future. I think I'll give it one more shot with the stripper, then start on the repaint.

In knitting news, I have pics of the finished Vesper, which I wore on Easter and which my in-laws were gracious enough to coo over. It made me blush a little, but I still loved it! Really, who doesn't love a compliment? After washing and blocking, the yarn softened up beautifully. This is fast becoming my favorite thing I've knit for myself.

I've also made quite a lot of progress on the Kusha Kusha scarf. Mostly I've been working on it during social knitting, as it's just stockinette and I have something like 30 inches more to do before I can change needles sizes. It looks a little rumpled in the photo because I spent a good part of Easter Sunday scrunching it so that my nieces and nephews could see how the stainless steel yarn behaved. They were duly awestruck. I'm not sure that keeps me from being the strange aunt who takes her knitting everywhere, but at least they're acting like they're interested.

I'm not sure whether I've mentioned that I've cast on for Vacation in the Mountains, a Stephanie van der Linden pattern from her book Around the World in Knitted Socks. It's a pretty straightforward pattern, traveling stitches on a reverse stockinette field. Nothing to it. I made all kinds of progress on it Sunday, as it was at least three hours to get to my husband's parents' house for Easter. I'm nearly halfway through the second repeat of the leg chart, so if all goes well, I could be turning the heel this weekend.

I think that's all I've got for now. It's been raining and raining the last few days, so much so that the Ohio River is about 6 feet above flood stage and will probably continue to rise. As of last night, we hadn't seen the floodgates installed in the wall next to our old house, but if we see much more rain, they could be going in. I hope for sun and a little drying out. Until next time, then.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I was all set to put up a sad, mopey post, but it turns out that I totally have a squee: the Sock Summit class list is up! Whee! I'm so excited, I could pee my pants. The classes! The teachers! The marketplace! The exclamation points! Oh. Mah. Gahd. I don't know what to do with myself.

First, I squeed on Facebook. Then I looked at the classes and was promptly overwhelmed. So many of the classes look interesting, but there are only two classes a day for four days. That means, at most, I can only take 8 classes of the many that are being offered. But in an effort to exercise a modicum of restraint, I'll only be taking three. Having read many of the Sock Summit threads on Ravelry, I noticed that more than one person who attended the first Sock Summit wished they had taken fewer classes, so they could better absorb the information. I think that's a great idea and I'm happy to learn from their mistakes. That will also allow me more time to check out the Marketplace.

I'm really looking forward to this. My husband isn't, but I am. I will do my best to be responsible. I will do my best not to be seduced by all the pretty hand-dyed and -painted yarns. I will appreciate the utility of the project bags and accessories on display. I will moderate my intake of alcohol, and so reduce the likelihood of having to knit myself a tent to live in after my husband puts me out on the street for being powerless against all things yarn-related. In short, I will try to be good.

So, there it is, a short post tonight, and no photos. There's a holiday weekend coming up, maybe some photos then. That's if I can stop with the happy dance for Sock Summit. Until next time, then.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I'm so grateful for so many things! But, for now, I'll limit myself to just the knitting-related gratitude:

  • Pattern Designers. I'm so grateful  that there are people in the world who have achieved a level of mastery of knitting and are willing to share their knowledge with the rest of us. These people understand how these little loops of string can be manipulated in an infinite variety ways to make items of use and beauty. In particular, I'm thinking about how a simple two-row repeat can change what could have been an ugly, pooled mess of a sock into a beautiful variegated sock. I'm so pleased with how the Herringbone Rib sock turned out, especially since there was actual pooling on the stockinette part of the foot. But on the top of the foot, where the herringbone patterning was worked, you can barely tell. It's like an Impressionist knitting: like if Claude Monet picked up a pair of needles, this is what you'd get. Kristi Schueler is awesome and I can't wait to make something else from one of her patterns.

  • Yarn dyers. I'm grateful that there are people in the world who were so unwilling to settle for plain, old, solid-colored yarns that they have to dye, hand-paint, or otherwise make their own. I am a total sucker for variegated yarns. The colors! Especially when they've been reskeined so that all the colors are side by side, in all their glorious harmony, I really can't help myself. There are so many out there and I want to try all them all! Bit by bit, I will make my way through as many independent dyers as possible. I won't name everyone here, but if you're a dyer and you're reading this, please know that I fully intend to buy at least a pair of sock's worth of your yarn as soon as I can. Maybe I'll see some of you at Sock Summit?

  • Local Yarn Shops. I love my LYS, The Knit Nook. The two owners are fantastic and I will miss seeing them once the shop closes in two weeks. It really breaks my heart. They have been generous with their expertise, as well as their humor and patience. This is something I've found at the best shops, at home and when I travel. When I'm away from home I make a point of checking out at least one LYS, and have found that, invariably, the folks there are passionate and knowledgeable about all things fibery & good. I love that I can often find locally-sourced fibers or dyers in these shops. It makes me feel good that I can make a contribution to the local economy, in my small way. (If you'll overlook what appears to be a photograph of a car, you'll see Atlanta's Knitch behind the car. It's the only photo I've taken of a yarn shop. I don't even have one of the Knit Nook. I'll have to do something about that!)

  • Ravelry. Is there any way to express how much I've come to depend on the Rav? At first, I was seduced by the message boards and the opportunity to connect with people as goofy for knitting as I am. But then I discovered people's project pages and their skill & talent. When I joined Ravelry, I was making scarves & baby hats. Now I'm knitting socks and sweaters for myself and others. Seriously, before Rav & the people I've met through it, I would never have thought that I could make all these things with my own two hands. It's really an amazing thing.
So, that's it for today. Next time I expect I'll have the photos from the finished Vesper, as well as the beginning of the Kusha Kusha scarf.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Something beautiful.

I didn't really have much to say this week, but I thought I'd share a lovely video that I found courtesy of the Make:Online Blog. From that post I learned that this video is for a cell phone with a wood case. It was uploaded to YouTube only a day or so before the recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami in northeastern Japan. I'm pretty sure that this ad/video could not have been made anywhere else. Please enjoy this version of J.S. Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


TO: Louie, a.k.a. "Killer"
FROM: Sharri, a.k.a. "The Lady Who Lives Here Too"

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it feels like things are shifting beneath your feet?

It's because I'm MAKING THE BED.

In future, could you please stay off it until I've finished? I do not enjoy removing you from said bed in order to complete this task. Nor do I enjoy doing it five times. Please take the hint.

I will appreciate your consideration of this matter.

P.S. Also, please quit tracking sand between the sheets. It itches.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In which I go on and on about my front porch.

I love that my house a covered front porch. I love that it goes the full width of the house. I love that it has brick corner columns. One of my favorite things about it is that it's a great place to watch a storm. The only thing I didn't like about it was that we didn't really have a good place to sit out there.

It had a swing, right up until about two weeks or so before we moved in. You see, that's when a few friends helped us move the piano out of the dining room to it's new home somewhere else. When the guys got back, we served up some brats & beer and retired to the front porch. M was already sitting on the swing when E joined him. He might have gotten in one swing when he went completely ass over teakettle as the "s" hook in the ceiling failed. It was well undersized for two adult men to sit there at the same time. Poor E - I think his backside was sore for a while afterward and since then time we haven't had a porch swing.

We haven't yet replaced the swing, but this weekend, I scored something even better: a steel glider & matching chair. These guys are old-school and serious as hell: stamped steel, post-WWII, made by the Bunting Company of Philadelphia, PA. They're not in the best condition, but a little elbow grease and some paint will make them the envy of the neighborhood.

I had been looking around on the interwebs for a glider for some time, but with no success. Most of the sets I found were contemporary interpretations of the mid-century classics I really wanted. They were made of cheap aluminum, with boring clamshell backs and no personality. They were also pretty flimsy-looking too. I very nearly purchased a set from Sears, but didn't, only because I couldn't pick them up at the store. (Pay shipping? That's crazy talk!)

Anyway, I found the real deal the other afternoon while I was driving home. I happened to be going past a resale shop and damned near drove off the road craning my neck to look at them. I went around the block and pulled in to see them up close. They were $75! For the pair! After checking with the husbeast, I zipped in to pay the man. Now they're mine! I haven't yet decided what the new paint colors will be, but you can be sure I'll post when I've done it.

Until next time, then. If you think of it, come out from lurking and comment, would ya?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Short & Sweet.

A short post tonight to show a little progress on the Herringbone Rib socks. I've finally gotten around to turning the heel! It kinda feels like I haven't been working on it much, but I think it's because I drove to work a few times last week and at least once this week. I've also been spending my knitting time at home working on Vesper.

Something interesting that showed up in the photos today: it looks like colors in this yarn get less saturated as you progress through the skein. I didn't really notice it until today, although there was a moment or two when I did think there was a little more of the olive green in one sock than the other. I'm sure it will be fine and that I'm probably the only one who'll really notice it, so I guess it's not a big deal. And there's a chance that the colors will soften in both socks the more I wash them.

So, there we are. A mere two paragraphs! (If you don't count this one.) See you next time!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Perseverance: I hyes it.

Imagine that you read the title of this post with a Russian accent. (Is good, da?) My husband loves that Direct TV ad with the Russian robber baron and the little bitty giraffe. I like it pretty well, too, but not in the laugh-every-time-he-sees-it way that he does. We must not be the only ones who like that ad, as there's a whole website for the farm that breeds these giraffes. I love the faking of the English, with phrases like, "Be clicking to view" and  "Otherwise they make tears." Is epyic win.

As for the perseverance bit, you might remember that I had to rip out about 6300 stitches from Vesper and start all over. I am pleased to report that I have finally gotten it to the point that I could divide for the sleeves. I am so glad. For the last few days, it's been a real slog to get to this point. This morning I "basted" in the box pleats (with locking stitch markers) around the neckline and decided that it's going to be too big, so I'll adjust the number of stitches for each pleat.

The frustrating part was that it took until the end of the fifth ball of yarn to get to divide for the sleeves. The pattern calls for eight total for the whole project. I'm getting a little worried about whether I'll have enough yarn. Maybe I'll grab a couple more at the yarn shop tomorrow after work. Because I'm a nerd, I estimated that each ball is about 6000 stitches, so I have knit 30,000 stitches so far and there are 18,000 stitches to go before I run out. This is what I think about with this much stockinette in the round.

Alright, that's all I've got for today. Until nyext time, friends.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Craft Time.

Well, here we are, at the end of Knit & Crochet Blog Week (2KCBWDAY7), and I've done every post! It wasn't nearly so difficult as I thought. There was a minute or two of nerves at the beginning, but I seem to have been able to plod along and complete the week's challenge.

I knit at every opportunity. It seems that every moment is occupied, which may be why my friends think I'm such a fast knitter. I'm not fast so much as persistent. Knitting was a hobby I picked up after I quit smoking, to give my hands something to do and to keep me from stuffing my face non-stop. It's been 10 years or so by now.

My first knitting opportunity of the day is usually my bus ride to work. I knit on the ride home as well, which gives me about 70 minutes every day to knit on whichever portable project I've got on the needles. Most of the time it's socks, occasionally a hat or scarf. The important thing is that the project is small, as the bus is almost always pretty crowded on the way in and I rarely have a seat to myself.

Depending on what's going on at work that day, my next opportunity to get a few rows in is a staff meeting (although this is a photo of my workstation, I don't actually get to knit at my desk). Our weekly meeting usually lasts an hour or so, so there's even more progress! I find that I'm much better able to listen to and comprehend what's going on when my hands are occupied with my knitting. I feel like I'm a lot less restless and it keeps me from doodling the meeting away. If I don't happen to have a meeting, I regularly have found knitting time when I have to pull a building permit, which is a time-consuming part of my job. Sometimes I can't complete this task in under 90 minutes, but if any of the plan reviewers are out of the office, it can take as long as 2-2.5 hours to get a permit. I can put some hurt on a ball of yarn in this amount of time.

Most afternoons I hang out at my LYS (whose blog I got this photo from) after work. I usually get there an hour and a half before the store closes for the day. It's nice to be around people who share this hobby, as well as see what kinds of interesting things they're working on. The folks at the Knit Nook have many talents - so many of them make gorgeous sweaters for themselves, and are pretty skilled at lacework too. My strength is probably socks, but it might be because I've done so many: last year I knit 14 pairs. Thursday nights are Stitch 'N' Bitch night, when I hang out until 9PM. I don't usually get there until 7 o'clock or so, and have a great time catching up with the people I don't usually see the rest of the week.

So, you see, I get many opportunities every week to knit. Some might say too many opportunities, but I'll take them as they come. Thanks so much for reading - I'm not sure that I can maintain the pace of this week's posts, but Knit & Crochet Blog Week has given me many ideas for the blog and I can't wait to try them out! Until next time.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Something to aspire to.

Wow! Day Six of Knit & Crochet Blog Week (2KCBWDAY6) and I'm still here! If you listen carefully, you might be able to hear the sound of hell freezing over. I'm pretty surprised I've made it this far. Today's post is about aspiration, and for me, the technique I most want to try is Fair Isle. There are a few reasons I haven't attempted a full-on Fair Isle project.

Firstly, there's my indecision about which project to start with. The Christmas before last, my mother-in-law gave me a gift card to Joann's, which burned such a hole in my pocket, I had to spend it right away on the reissued Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting. Every last one of the projects is one I want to try, especially the Water Lillies jacket. I also like the girl's sweater & tam, as well as the boy's scarf & mitten set. See what I'm talking about?

Secondly, there's a problem with sizing, specifically that patterns (especially those from the time the book was written) just aren't written for women of my size. It must be 18 months ago that I began to try to adapt the Water Lillies Chart to fit me. It was not easy. In fact, it was so Not Easy, that the project has been hibernating for some time. I had even used colored pencils on some special knitting graph paper to chart one of the fronts of the cardigan. It looked lovely on paper. I had even taken the time to write out the instructions for a cardigan to fit me, based on the stated pattern gauge, from Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. I wrote a lot.

Thirdly, there was the question of the yarn. I really want to use Jamieson & Smith 2-ply to knit it. That will certainly involve my ordering it online, which is a dicey proposition, as color is so difficult to judge on a computer's monitor. Which is why I actually ordered a shade card from the folks at J&S (they're currently sold out) for something like 5.99GBP. I'm also concerned about my gauge, which will make a difference in the charts, so I really need to do some swatching. I will probably end up ordering a ball of each color I want to use and do my best with the charts. I'm a little afraid of how expensive a project it will be for me to make myself a Fair Isle cardigan. I'm not a small woman.

And the last thing that's kept me from Fair Isle knitting: steeks. The mere idea of taking a pair of shears to my knitting makes me want to pee my pants. Seriously. I've heard from those who've done it that it's not so bad, but I'm not sure I believe them. They're nice people, my friends, but it may be that I have some Trust Issues in this regard. Maybe I can work my swatch in such a way that I can do a steek without throwing up.

So there it is. I aspire, one day, to complete a Fair Isle project. I'm not sure what or when it will be, but I suppose the best plan will be to start small and work toward my epic cardigan. Until next time, Friends.

Friday, April 1, 2011

And Now, For Something Completely Different

Or, as you may have guessed, Day Five of Knit & Crochet Blog Week (2KCBWDAY5). Here are some awesome videos from a Japanese ukulele band. They're musical amigurumi! And they sing! Enjoy.

First, the Beatles' "Twist and Shout:"

Then "Till There Was You:"

Next, "London Bridge:"

And a little about the band: