Archive for September, 2007

Eight More Things

Here we go:

1.  It took me three tries to get my drivers’ license.  Wanna make something of it?

2.  I have never had long hair.  Corollary:  I was often mistaken for a boy until I was 14 or 15.

3.  I collect teapots.   Most recently, the Charlotte di Vita Trade Plus Aid pots.  Sadly, they have been discontinued due to the rising cost of copper.  Just like me to come in on the tag end of something.

4.  I have been on “maternity leave” since September 2006.  No baby, just taking the time.  I am thoroughly enjoying it, and my husband has been most supportive, both financially and emotionally.  I am happier now than I have ever been in my life.  If you have never been on maternity leave, I would heartily recommend it, man or woman, with or without a baby.

5.   My parents are both alive and well in their 80’s.  They are travellers; cruising, touring and so forth.  They just returned from cruising the Baltic, and Mum told me yesterday that she’d like to go to Machu Pichu next.  When I grow up I want to be just like my Mum.

6.  I have three sister, no brothers.  We weren’t friends until we all grew up and moved out of the house.  Now we are all good friends and I’m proud to be one of the Byrnes Girls.

7.  I built a dollhouse during college.  I love little things.  The patience I learned doing miniatures has stood me in good stead for knitting. 

8.  I really like coffee, but mostly my own at home.  I grind my own beans and use a French press.  I am on a permanent quest to discover a really good decaf bean.

Now, I’m going to take the cowards’ way out of listing people that I’m tagging.  Please check out the blogs listed in my sidebar; these are all blogs I read regularly and I really think that they’re worth a look.  If any of you want to “do the meme”, please do so and maybe leave me a comment to that effect. 

And now, a shot of dogs (mine and Jean’s).  This is one of the things that defines a Byrnes Girl (except Heather, who remains suspicously immune to canine charms).  The only one missing is Tillie; she moves too fast for my camera to focus.  Gotta love those hyperactive black labs.



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Tag! I’m it!

So while I was gone, my friend Kyle (from Kyle Knits!) tagged me for the 8 things about yourself meme.  Now, I did do this already, but in the spirit of the game, I told Kyle I’d try to come up with 8 new things.  This will make a total of 16 things about me that I think people should find fascinating.  Is this the height of hubris?  I mean, 8 things maybe, but another 8?  I’ll have to think about this.  Check back tomorrow; I’ll see what I can come up with.

Thanks, Kyle.  Thanks a lot.

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Back at it…

We’re home, and we had a lovely time.  I found a nifty little wool store in Davenport, Iowa (poor Mike had to go golfing instead), and bought this:


up close:


Beautiful colours, and amusingly enough, the sample scarf was in the muliti-directional scarf I am working on now with Silk Garden.  I think that maybe I will use it for something more open, such as a (gasp) crocheted pattern…Did I just say that?

Laurel  Austin, the owner of the Yarn Shoppe, was just what a wool shop owner should be:  friendly and helpful.  She and her minions were rearranging the store and kept showing me things that they thought I should buy.  Luckily for me, I had my invisible force field up and made my getaway with just the Unikat (merino) and some black that I think is merino (I lost the tags).  I have no idea why I keep buying black.  (I guess 40% off is a good reason.)  I wanted to save the acquisition budget for Chicago.

I found no wool stores in Chicago.  They are there, but we were on a mission.  Architecture,


the Thorne Miniature rooms at the Art Institute, Soldier Field (which I think looks like the aliens have landed their flying saucer in the stadium),


 the Bean,


and very neat Park Cafe:


This reminds me of something Entrelac, but I don’t know what.

My travel scarf finished Day One looking like this:


and by the time we got home yesterday had grown to this:


I love this colourway.


Knitting and touristing (and shinsplints from walking 9 hours a day for three days) aside, we got home safely, the house was standing, the police weren’t in evidence, there was more beer in the fridge than when we left (Andy claims not to know how that happened; must be one of those Acts of God you read about), the dogs had been fed, and no chairs were broken.  This travelling and being a tourist could be addictive, so we’re off to a travel expo tonight.  Perhaps something more exotic, like DownUnder or the South Pacific.  I really need to buy a lottery ticket.  Since we can’t order room service, I have to cook supper.  (After checking out the fridge, it will be a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, so to speak.)  The laundry is done, and I’ve had coffee with Linda.  All is right with my world.

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We’re taking off on Tuesday, and of course the first order of business was to organize which knitting I want to take.  I do this every time I travel, and I am always very optimistic about the amount of knitting I am going to do.  This time, I have downsized my expectations and settled on a single project: the multi-directional scarf (just like the one I just did; different colourway).  I have had to show immense self-control (even though there was no chocolate involved!) (just voices)


and the pattern, wool, and needles are nicely sealed in a ziplock bag suitable for air travel.  That left me with four days to go and nothing on needles except the lace shawl which needed to rest.  So, I did this:


and Attie helped with the modeling (only for purposes of scale illustration):


This is a really nifty bag- a little bigger than the Booga Bags, and FAST FAST FAST.  It took two balls of Kureyon (in #102- what is likely one of the loudest colourways) knit with a strand of  Patons Pure Wool.  (just over 1 ball).   Pattern:  from here via Lynn at Wednesday morning Stitch and Bitch ladies who get together and knit and sometimes have brunch yada yada yada.  Time to knit:  Started Wednesday evening,  finished Thursday evening, felted on Saturday, and it’s thick enough that it will likely still be drying when I get home a week from Tuesday.  I don’t know if I’ll keep it or put it in the tickle trunk, but it was fun to knit and even if I gift it, I’ll likely do another one for me. 

Now, since the laundry is done, but it’s too soon to pack, I will spend my time making a list for Andy regarding dog maintenance (including dental hygeine; my domain but I’m willing to teach), house maintenance, definitions of “party” and why these are not a good idea when Mike and I are out of town, alarm clock operation, basic nutrition other than pizza, location and purpose of the laundry room, the Swiffer Sweeper, and the dishwasher, and anything else that comes to mind.  If anyone’s got any last minute suggestions for Fun Things to Do in the Quad Cities (Iowa and Illinois) and Chicago, now’s the time to share.  Off to the windy city!


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I don’t know about your neighborhood, but in my neighborhood garage sales are ubiquitious.  Because we live in a fairly nice area of the city, people assume that we have really good junk.  All you have to do is throw a little ad in the paper, and you can put all your personal detritus out on display for all to see (and hopefully buy).  I have had 2 garage sales in my life, and hate the organizing, the pricing, and the public admission that I have bought some really dumb shit over the years.  When the neighbors invite me to join in the block sale, I usually reply that I am still using all my junk.  Instead, every few years, I go through the house and purge.  Linda and I just made a run to the Salvation Army Thrift Store, where they gladly take all my decorating mistakes, outgrown clothes, and superfluous kitchen items and put them on sale anonymously for people who are down on their luck.   It is a cleansing experience, and really forces me to be more selective about sentimentality.  For example:


I did not buy this sombrero.  I would be far more likely to bring back something textile-related from Mexico, (or a really heavy pewter salad bowl that causes my luggage to be overweight and then we have to pay extra luggage charges but can’t get a receipt because there’s no paperwork to backup the weight claim and I think it’s sort of extortion but Mike says the luggage is worth more than the charge so just pay it or the suitcase is likely to go missing, but I digress) but when I left the bank a year ago, it was gifted to me.  I intended to explore some writing when I quit my job, and my co-workers included this chapeau in my “writer’s kit”.  It had useful things like pens, note paper, peppermints, and so forth, and I wasn’t sure what the hat was for.  “It’s a thinking cap.  For when you get writer’s block.”  Well, either it’s broken, or I have no discipline.  I put it on and nothing happens.  (There is not even a disembodied voice shouting “Gryfyndor!” or whatever).  Turns out to be the discipline thing.  I write here, and I have done a little writing elsewhere, but I do not have what it takes to write every day.  I have another friend who is actually one of that rare breed- he suppports himself and his family with his writing, but he is an incredibly disciplined man.  He is not distracted by, say, knitting.  I have a huge respect for anyone who writes knitting books (patterns or anecdotal).  I would find the research way more fun (and therefore distracting) than the writing.  Too bad that’s not what pays… 

Anyways, I looked at the hat and thought:  I have no ties to this hat.  It doesn’t help me write (it actually gives me a headache- the sucker is heavy!), I didn’t buy it as a souvenir, I don’t even know whose head it has graced, and it’s taking up space.  Attie doesn’t particularily care for it


(she actually exited the room immediately after I snapped the picture) and it’s not flattering on me:


(although it blocks a lot of sun).  Out it went.  Liberating!

Then, because I had more space, I did what any self-respecting knitter would do.  I got something to put in the newly-emptied space.


This will be another multi-directional scarf.  I accused Glenda of being a temptress this morning at knitting.  Fall stock coming in- need I say more?  I am not going to take the Beugler shawl with me to Chicago next week because it has turned out to be a “must be knit in absolute silence” kind of a thing.  I knit six rows, and tink five.  Then I knit five rows and frog three.  Easy pattern, distractible knitter.  What else can I say?  It is going to be beautiful, though.  Just a little later that initially anticipated.


Pinned out but not actually blocked.  I’ll block it when I’ve done a little more, probably after vacation.

Anyways, no garage sale.  I cleaned out a bunch of stuff, which helps to focus my brain.  I know, I know, the money I made could have bought a whole lot of wool, but I would rather pay more and not admit I bought dumb stuff.  Kind of like carbon credits for flying in a jet, but that’s a discussion for another day. 

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Wheels and Needles

We had a really Big Event at our house this week.  Andrew has purchased a New Car.  It’s in his name, it’s his money, it’s fancier than he needed (but not as fancy as he wanted), and now he has to keep working.  I am no longer doing his laundry or cleaning his bathroom.   Children do have a way of growing up when you’re not looking.   His new car reminded me of a fellow I worked with when I was in high school whose mother took out a loan so Craig could buy a brand new Trans Am, and he was such a jerk he wouldn’t even let his mother sit in it.  The car was his baby, and he would run out into the parking lot every hour or so just to look at it.  One evening some of us other restuarant staff gave it the “strawberry shortcake treatment”- exterior only- and covered it with whipped cream, strawberry glaze and strawberries.  Words cannot describe the rage.  That’s a good example of why Canadians aren’t (legally) allowed to arm themselves with handguns.  And now, because this is how my mind works, lurching from one random thought to another, this car story makes me think that we North Americans spend too much time babying inanimate objects, when we could be nurturing our friends, families, pets, and people we don’t know who need help every day.  If you haven’t already checked out Doctors Without Borders, you might want to.  If you want to do it throught KWB (Knitters Without Borders) here’s a link through the Yarn Harlot.

Needles, you say?  Why yes.  I finished the cropped cardigan, and while it turned out the way I expected (amazing what happens when you don’t try to dick around with the pattern), I’m not sure if I’ll wear it.   Like I said before, nothing about me screams “mini”…



The shaping was fun, and I might try it again in the future with a longer length (although I hate to do the same project twice).  It makes a nice thick fabric, and the shaping balances out the chunkiness.  Mike pointed out that there are holes where the sleeves are, so I gave him a crash course in yarn over increases.  It fell on deaf ears, glazed eyes, etcetera.

I actually ran in the ends on the seaman scarf for BIL for Christmas (no picture; it looks just like it did before!), and attached the bead to the  ends of this scarf:


I am not good with a needle and thread (don’t look closely) but if I keep moving while I am wearing it, maybe the details will escape close scrutiny.  Photo quality aside, the beads are a perfect colour match to the yarn.  On a scale of 1-10, my satisfaction is at about 8.5 with this project.

I have started Eugen Beugler’s Lace Dreams from one of my favourite books:


so far I have almost finished 1 of 19 reps of pattern, and I’m liking it! 



Lace is fun, because it pretty much does its own thing, lumps and bumps and all, and then when you block it, it transforms into something else.  I am using Alpaca Plus sock yarn (I liked the colour, and I can’t do every project according to the instructions, so don’t give me any flak.  Of course, if it doesn’t work, I’ll be expecting sympathy of one sort or another.) from Unique Fibre Studio, and I’m hoping that the 20% nylon (60% alpaca, 20% wool) won’t scuttle my blocking plans.  I think I will block it on the needles when I’ve finished one more repeat just to make sure.  There is just a little halo on the yarn, and the colours are beautiful!  The ostrich plumes pattern is easy to memorize (except I’m having trouble with the first and last six stitches of each row.  How bad is that?) and I think this will be what I take on holidays when we go to Moline in a week and a half.  I’m really looking forward to the Chicago weekend after the Moline trade show we’re going to (Although I don’t think I’ll bother with the John Deere world headquarters tour) (in spite of the fact that our local economy is largely agricultural), but it’s too bad I’ll miss the 1000 knitters shoot which happens today!  If you aren’t familiar with this project, and have a few minutes, you might want to check this out.  Franklin at the Panopticon writes one of the most entertaining blogs I have ever come across, and this project is really cool. 

We’re off this afternoon to a memorial service for a close friend of my inlaws.  He was ill for a very short time, and his passing has made us realize that we take for granted those around us.  I try to think every day about the people I love (and even some that I only like) (and even some that I can barely tolerate), and remind myself that we’ve all got a legitimate claim on our particular space in the world, and that every passing is someone’s loss.  Have a safe weekend. 

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