Monday, February 18, 2008

SOTSii Clue 4 finished

A week behind, Clue 4 is finished after waiting out a bout of the flu. My brain was not lace functional, which was maddening.

On Saturday my brain finally came home, and it was marathon movie & knitting day: I watched both versions of Pride & Prejudice, Barton Fink, and Phantom of the Opera. Claire picked out the last two, neither of which I would have chosen. But now I've seen them both and got some lace done to boot.

Yesterday at the North Austin Meetup, I mentioned that I'd languished about all day Saturday knitting and movie watching. When they heard I watched both Pride & Prejudice versions, they all wanted to have a movie day/night where we do the same. I'm definitely up for that!

See, I told you I was nuts.

Malabrigo Madness

Again, biting off more than I can chew.

On Ravelry, in the Malabrigo Junkies group, I signed on for the Malabrigo March KAL for the Mr. Greenjeans Cardigan, the FOLIAGE hat KAL, as well as the Herringbone Mittens KAL. Then I volunteered to moderate a Capitan hat KAL!!

It's official: I am NUTS.

These are projects in addtion to the already crazy ones I'm working on.

Oh. Heidi and I are going to make Malabrigo Loafers, too.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hearts Aplenty

Happy Valentine's Day. I always called it a Hallmark holiday, but most folks aren't as cynical as me. Daughter Julia ignores it completely, but still expects a package of goodies each year. Go figure. This year, I sent each of my far away kiddos Chicago-based Fannie May chocolates in heart boxes. When they were little bitty kids, Fannie May stores were in every neighborhood in the D.C. area. I would get each of them a half-pound heart shaped box and a card, which they'd find at their place at the breakfast table on Valentine's Day. I discovered that just because they grow up and move out doesn't mean I'm off the hook, either. They still expect their Valentine chocolates! And their Easter bunnies, Christmas stockings, etc.

Claire's been seriously under the weather with the flu since Sunday. I had a less virulent version, so I went to GAUGE on Monday and bought some Malabrigo worsted for both of us to knit a couple of easy (mindless) projects. My brain was too feverish to work on SOTSii lace project, but I had to do something while taking it easy.
The too-cute-for-words hat to the left is one of them. Called Si CAPITAN, by talented fiber artist Rosi Garmendia, it took only eight hours to make and fifteen minutes to pack up and Express Mail to Liz. Claire felt too awful to knit, so while keeping her company and supplying endless pots of tea and bowls of soup, I knit. Claire wasn't really happy about modeling it, but it was the only option before it vanished into the ether. I think it looks cute on her --- she claims she isn't a hat person.

I bought two hanks of this Amoroso colorway, so another one will be on the way to Julia in March, when I make it during Malabrigo March (a challenge on the Malabrigo Junkies board on Ravelry.)

There was a lot left on one hank, so I knit up and felted these little hearts, which Claire then stuffed and whipstitched together as little Valentine gifts for friends.

Our knitting group met this morning, so last night I made a batch of my Aunt Esther's justly famous frosted sugar cookies for everyone to enjoy. They are exactly as I remember them as a kid: Slightly crisp, sweet, sandy textured, and very vanilla-y.

Every year, on the day before Valentine's Day, Aunt Esther'd spend the entire day making an enormous batch of these, coloring the icing the same pale, delicate pink. I was transported back to her sunny kitchen some 50 years ago, when I wasn't even tall enough to look over the counter. I had a sixth sense when she was making cookies, and since our families lived across the street from each other, I'd appear at her elbow with wide, expectant eyes. She never disappointed, and always offered me my own plateful with a glass of milk at her dining room table. Every Valentine's Day, she set that table with a lace tablecloth and a bowl of pink carnations. She made the evening meal a treat for her family, with those cookies as the dessert. Every year. Without fail.

Years after I'd left the nest, I always sent her a Valentine's Day card thanking her for all the years of Valentine cookie baking days.

She now lives in a nursing home. During a visit last summer, she asked me if I remembered all the Valentine cookies we made together. Well, she made them; I just ate them. But her touching reminisce will always stick with me.

Happy Valentine's Day, Aunt Esther.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

San Antonio Yarn Crawl

This past Saturday, our Austin Knitting Meetup Group paid its last respects to a venerable fiber institution of 37 years duration in San Antonio, The Yarn Barn. Five of us drove on a yarn crawl there, and also included Yarnivore across town, and Old Oaks Fiber Ranch in Wimberley as a stop on the scenic route back to Austin.

The Yarn Barn isn't just a knitting and needlework store, it is a veritable archive. Nothing's been thrown out for the last 37 years on the premise that someone may need it later. That's a lot of interesting inventory in books, tools, yarn, patterns, buttons, bags, notions, needles, periodicals, and just plain curiosities. The doors close on April 15, due to the loss of the lease, but shop employees told us there are several buyers interested in the inventory. The owner just isn't interested in hoeing out and relocating after 37 years. Retirement looks mighty enticing when you look at the floor to ceiling bins of yarn, row after row after row of sagging shelves of books, and carousals of every conceivable size, make, and type of needle, knitting and otherwise. Wherever the new owner moves, the flavor of this shop that time forgot will surely be changed. Currently, all transactions are done manually, by hand. Not a computer in sight. Luddite heaven. On April 15, it all goes away. Where, we don't yet know. The Crawlees

NOTE TO OTHERS WHO MIGHT EXPECT GREAT SALES AND DEALS: Don't expect to find any great bargains; there are none. No sales, no inventory reduction. No need when you have potential buyers vying for the goods. It's just gracefully shifting from one set of hands to the next.

We spent a long time fondling and thumbing the goods there, which led directly to lunch at La Fonda on Main, a longtime San Antonio eatery away from the hordes at the Riverwalk and the Alamo, on the edge of the Olmos Park area. It was a gorgeous day, so we dined in the beautiful courtyard behind the main restaurant under a canopy of ancient trees.

The food was fabulous, and the company saucy and fun. A sunny, slightly breezy 70 degree day is as rare as hens teeth in this part of the world, where you are steamed and scorched into submission ten months of the year. All the planets aligned; this was perfection. Bliss.

Claire at our table at La Fonda on Main

Our stop at Yarnivore was one of convenience, since we were in the neighborhood, so to speak. They have a nice selection of roving yarn, so several of our Crawlees succumbed.

We wound our way back toward Austin on the back roads of the Hill Country up to Wimberley, where we made our final stop at Old Oaks Fiber Ranch. It's a beautiful spot, with lots of natural light, and comfortable chairs set around a big round table, looms and spinning wheels behind it. Yarn in cones, skeins, and hanks fill the side of the shop where the entry is located. The ranch is large, with alpaca barns and paddocks on either side of the long lane to the shop.
Lynn & Claire visit the alpacas

Not a bad way to burn up 250 miles and eight hours.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hint #3: Caught Up. For a Day.

SOTSii Hint #3 is finished after getting behind on Hint #2 last week. I'm rejoicing in a day off, knitting a dozen or so rows on the Mrs. Darcy cardigan for Liz.

Not so fast, though.

Tomorrow is the release date for Hint #4.

Ah well. The bliss is lovely to enjoy for a few more hours. This color is so spring-like, so fresh. It will be gorgeous once blocked, in all its lacy splendor. Right now, it is 21" wide X 24"long, unstretched, unblocked, un-anything. Eight more knitting installments to go.

Yesterday was sort of a knitting milemarker for me: I have been knitting exactly one year and three months! Who'da thunk I'd be doing this in such a short time?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

SOTSii Clue 2 complete ... onward through the fog

See that orange marker? I didn't mean to leave it on there, but since it's there, I'll tell you why. That's the point that I ripped back to this weekend. It was painful, but necessary.

As knitting friend Marilyn asked: "Could you have seen the mistake from a galloping horse at 40 MPH?"

Yes. You could have. So it had to come out.

This is the sound of ripping out 22 rows:


But now it's looking great, with Clue 3 already 12 rows underway (just not in these shots.) This should put me back on track now.

These pics are shown on the needles, unblocked in any way. I just spread it out. It is 20" wide now, and will probably block out at 23" - 24" in width. Since this is a "secret" KAL, the length is a mystery. Clues aren't a consistent number of rows each week, either, another bit of mystique.