Monday, October 29, 2007

What a draining day....

The phone woke me this morning. The last time that happened, my kid wrecked her car. It makes me jumpy. But it was the company we had hired to remove some things from our back yard last week before the fires made the air quality too bad to anything outside, much less physical labor. So far, so good. I was happy because it's the first step in doing some fun stuff to the back yard. The old, mostly empty shed was going, as was the side fence separating it from the rest of the yard. With a new, sturdy fence between my neighbor's and our pools, the second one would not be necessary. A bench, rickety pool slide, picnic table and clothes line were also slated for removal.

Things are going great guns when they drill into a copper water line. Oops! Shut the water off to the house and put in an emergency call to the plumber. Somewhere along the house's history, a fence installer poured concrete for a fence support right over a water line. A line that should not have been there in the first place, just 6 inches down. Seems like it was a long ago solution on how to get ample water pressure to the backyard sprinkler system.

The dismantlers, who were doing a great job and were not really at fault about the water, hauled away all kinds of stuff and I'm enjoying the bigger yard area. But now it's obvious that this old HUGE tree really needs to be removed at some future date because the roots are crawling under all kinds of important things, like the house. The roots had already bent the aforementioned water pipe, so it was 'fortunate' it got broken when we were here, as opposed to flooding us out. They leave us to the plumber...

The plumber does his thing which includes lots of drilling and soldering and now we have water AND a huge hole. Once everyone's gone, I get to grab my own shovel and a big bucket to rearrange dirt, filling in the hole and otherwise getting grimy.

You gotta love an older house. And this is just the first step in us giving it a face lift, but between the electrician who came a couple of weeks ago to kill the power going out to the shed, the actual removing of the junk, and an emergency visit by the plumber, the next step will have to wait for our bank accounts to recover.

Friday, October 26, 2007

An FO, finally

You would have thought with being stuck in the house for the past week due to the lousy air quality and my classes canceled, I would have been knitting up a storm. But no. It seemed as if I had this overwhelming lethargy, especially in anything creative. Instead, I cleaned or reorganized stuff. Cleaning and related tasks calm me. I feel like I'm in control of a little corner of the universe. I went to the LYS on Wednesday to turn in some more hats for the Susan G. Koman fundraiser, then stayed to count the donations and otherwise tidy up. Susan thanked me, but I was happy to IN CHARGE of something!

I finished a pair of Walking Away Socks, a Fiber Trends pattern. I did the 'Reflections' motif. I like them, but in the future I will definitely start with a ribbing all the way around the top before jumping into the pattern along the back. These socks don't stay up as well as I would like. I used Knit Picks Essential Tweed yarn in the slate colorway.

I made myself finish the gray socks before starting another pair with this Austermann Step yarn. It's the #10, Melba colorway. I've been wanting this particular colorway for months. Even when the LYS ordered the sampler pack allegedly containing it, they would arbitrarily substitute other colors. I ended up ordering it from Patternworks at full price, plus shipping! It arrived last Saturday. You know I threw this skein in with the items packed for a potential evacuation. It will become a basic crew sock with a 2 x 2 ribbing for the leg and a st st foot. I don't have any plain socks OTN and I missed my favorite non-thinking portable project. I'm not getting into that situation again.

I also played around with my yarns so now all the sock yarns are stored so I can see each colorway. Such is the current level of excitement in my life. I have also been playing around in Ravelry, looking at who else is signed up in the San Diego area, who else has made the same things as I have and what yarns are the most popular. The top 10 yarns used in projects were an interesting mix. The top yarn by far was Cascade 220. Not surprising because it's a classic worsted weight. Second was Noro Kureyon, 3rd Patons Classic Merino. What got me was numbers 5 and 6 - Lily Sugar N Cream and Caron Simply Soft. I am so used to the lists with the most vocal decrying such pedestrian yarns, but am aware of the many people, especially in my crochet workshop, who are die hard Red Heart fans. It seemed to me the Ravelry folks were more like the 'in' crowd, but I like that they proudly flash their stash no matter if it's not especially cool.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Today's happy chore will be to unpack. I set up my computer last night and returned the part of my sock yarn stash that was protecting my monitor back to its assigned spot. I'll do the suitcase and photo albums today.

We are getting a bit stir crazy, as this is the 4th day we remain indoors with the windows closed. It's smokey and ashy out and everyone is still being asked to stay off the roads.

But things are good for us. I've got my knitting, books, computer and TV. Hey, I've got my home and get to sleep in my own bed. We hope we continue to have electricity. The large fire to the north of us is still really out of control, threatening other communities. The Harris fire that had affected us has been pushed back away from the neighborhoods it was threatening here, but it's still less than 10% contained. With the wind change that was good for us, the fire has returned east and is descending on the eastern communities where it first started.

We have it so good, but I do confess to initially being paralyzed when faced with the situation of having room in my car for a finite amount of stuff and deciding what to take and what to leave behind to face destruction. I know they are only things, but it's sobering nevertheless.

Thanks for all the good wishes. Keep them coming, especially for the less fortunate.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Much calmer now

Once I removed the back seats from the car and loaded up my photo albums, which number more like 30 binders, I felt ever so much better. Of all my possessions, including the yarn and computers, these were my first priority. (I took this photo after I unloaded the car and had already put away about 6 binders.)

Then I actually packed a suitcase for a week with jeans, sweats, t-shirts and toiletries. With room to spare, I went to my cache of handknit socks and put my favorites in the outside pockets. I totally dismantled my computer station into its components. My brand new flat screen monitor was carefully placed in an XL Ziplock shopping bag with a layer of sock yarns to protect the screen. I'm typing on my old laptop. We've got everything ready to take out to the car. If we get the call to leave, it'll just take 15 minutes to toss it all in the cars. I have more of the XL baggies in case there's room. Then it's more sock yarn to make me happy. You know I packed up all my needles.

The 'good' news is that tankers and helicopters are able to fly and drop copious amounts of water. The Sweetwater reservoir is about 1/4 mile away from the burning Mount San Miguel and it seems to have stopped the spread towards us in Bonita. I think I'll take a nap.

Thanks for all the good wishes. Please keep them coming.

Still here and fretting

I managed to get a few hours sleep. As soon as the sun comes up, I'm going to remove the back seats of my PT Cruiser and start loading it up. I suspect a decent amount of my stash is going to find its way into the crevices of my car - and some of my favorite FO's. Bob's got a big sedan, so a lot of things will fit there. DD will load up her own car. Our destination will be married DD's apartment in the city. If not, the oceanfront.

We may not have to evacuate, but I'll have a lot more peace of mind once things are packed and all we have to do if need be is just walk out the door. It'll keep me busy and become a happy chore to unpack if it's not necessary.

Hope the winds die down enough to allow aircraft to make the much needed drops of water and retardant. 0 percent containment is not good, nor is 300,000 folks evacuated.

No sleep tonight

The fires and evacuation orders are getting uncomfortably close. Good ol' Bob went to bed and is snoring peacefully. His calmness is quite comforting. The cars are not packed, but I have gathered what needs to go. Every time the news mentions Bonita Road, my heart jumps. So far, it's all about 5 to 6 miles east of us.

As I was thinking about to take with, I honestly thought about which projects and yarn to bring. I got a package from Patternworks today with 2 skeins of yarn I couldn't get anywhere else.

Geez, the news just said the fires towards Bonita, let's see if we've got to get going. Pray for the winds to stop.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Party, party, party.

The Bonita Knitting Store had its second annual Pink Party last Saturday night. It was a come in your 'jammies to knit or crochet, eat some pink food, and otherwise just relax with friends. Growing up in NYC, I had never been to a pajama party. My daughters had them when they were younger, but this was my first. Such fun!

One of the regulars brought her mother in law visiting from Buffalo, NY. She showed us how to whip up a crocheted hat that many in her senior center make to donate to schools. Whenever a teacher notes a child freezing due to lack of necessary hats and scarves, they are able to give them to the needy right then and there. It's basically a rectangle of double crochets worked into the back loop. When it's long enough for the sides to go around a head, slip stitch the last and first rows together. Gather one end of the tube. Using chains, she made a squiggle topper, but you could do whatever you like or leave it plain. I made this one in a couple hours watching TV.

Here's some of the yummy food set out for us and Susan, the owner, preparing flavored coffee per request.

California on fire

First things first.... we're fine and don't expect to be evacuated. The fire closest to us, the Harris fire, is about 20 miles east of us. It's making it smokey outside, but so far no homes have been threatened. There are several huge housing areas in Eastlake much closer to it than we are and none there have even been given a 'get ready to go' notice.

That said, I'm still a bit nervous. I've lived in the San Diego area since 1989 and this is only the second time the fires have been this bad. The last time, in October 2003, we were also quite safe, but we made lists of what we'd take if we had to go. Bob and I have always been photo fanatics, so I made sure all 20+ volumes of our photo albums were in the same place, as the 20 or so slide storage units.

We've all been told to stay indoors and off the roads due to air quality and the need for emergency personnel to have easy access. Also, we've been asked to stay off cell phones, as that's how the professionals on the front lines are communicating. The news literally asked all parents to confiscate their kids' cell phones.

Me? I've been knitting, crocheting and cleaning. I clean when I feel a need to be in control of SOMETHING, so I'll be tackling this old house, grateful I have one.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Time Bandit

After much gnashing of teeth, frustration, and an entire day in COMPUTER HELL, my new and beautiful 22 inch flat panel computer monitor is up and running.

We had selected the same model DH got last month, causing me much hardware envy. As I began to pester "Santa" about how I've been such a good girl and really deserved one just like his, he replied I didn't have to wait for Christmas. Off we went to our favorite toy store, Fry's. I was giddy with excitement, literally jumping up and down. We got it home and so I wouldn't bother my beloved computer tech rep, left for an errand, knowing I had hours of delight awaiting me. Got back to a blank monitor. Not working and didn't want anything to do with my computer. Oh, we jiggled every connection, downloaded every driver, rebooted upteen times. Nada. Was my beautimous monitor a dud? No! The traitor worked quite nicely with DH's set up, which is just like mine. I wanted to pitch a full tantrum like a two year in the grocery store, throw myselft to the ground, stiffen my back, then kick and scream.

I called the tech gods at Fry's after not getting any help from the manufacturer. They suggested bringing it in the next day along with my computer tower. They swore I'd leave the place with a working monitor, even if it was not the one I had originally wanted. Holding on to that thought, DH and I were able to get to sleep. In the morning, the first thing DH said was monitor related. Oh yes, we are geeks of the most serious kind.

Due to this dire emergency, I missed my Wednesday morning crochet workshop so we could get to Fry's before others with insignificant problems took up too much time with the techs. It took us about an hour to get there although it's normally a 15 minute drive because it decided to rain - drizzle, actually. But in San Diego, where we have had less than 1/2 inch of rain in the last 6 months, wet streets are traumatic. Once we get there, the tech discovers in short order my video card is misbehaving. Off with its head! A new card, installation, and clean the baby up while she's open, have all conspired to dip into my yarn budget. But my originally purchased monitor works! When we got home, hooked everything back up (I remembered to take photos of the back of the computer so all the wires went back in the same holes), I sat on the floor with all fingers and toes crossed muttering, "Please, please work.." and it did.

So, a 10 minute installation took a day and a half. Then I seriously had to play with it once it was working. I ran slideshows of many of my photos on the big screen with at least 4 times the resolution of the old one. This morning I watched a video from my college and gleefully recognized several classmates I had not seen in over 30 years. But then I turned on the TV in the family room and the picture tube is going. I think I'm going in for our first flat screen TV as soon as my credit card turns over!
I have barely knit a stitch in over 2 days.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Coriolis failure

I give up for now. After two major frogging episodes, all I got was a too long foot with baggy ankles and a binding tight spiral around my leg. My gauge was right and I know the number of stitches I need to go around my mid foot and leg, so the next time I attempt this, I'll do some more maneuvering But for now, I'm done. My brain needs a rest and my yarn wants to grow up to become something else.

I am intrigued by the construction and I see real possibilities, but I'm tired of fighting the book format and failure of my 1st attempts. I've made almost 80 pairs of decent socks, but my confidence is a bit shaken.

Right now I'm working on a lace scarf sample for a November class I'm giving at my LYS. It's from the Interweave Knits Holiday issue and sufficiently intricate to boost my confidence - proving I really have some knitting skills.

Monday, October 08, 2007

FOs completed while absent from blogland

From my Knitting workshop class, my first real stranded colorwork in preparation for my seamless yoke sweater per the EPS calculations. I'm also going to steek the pullover into a cardigan. The hats went to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer fundraiser. I made great progress on the stockinette sections of the sweater while sitting at the booth at Bonitafest and on the train to and from Santa Barbara. I am almost ready to add some color.

The crochet workshop is also going well. I went ahead and made this placemat to practice the motif and the edging. A bit lumpy, but definite progress in honing my rusty skills.

This Noni bag is the Cascading Fuschias Really Big Market Bag. I used 2 strands of Navy Patons Merino for the bag and one strand of the colors for the flowers. The flowers took just as long as the bag to knit. I modified the straps to make it a shoulder bag.

I finally finished this plain pair of socks made from Opal Sommernachtstraun, a hand dyed colorway. This has been my take along project since I started it back in May.

Another Short and Sweet for me. It's from Elsebeth Lavold Silky wool. My first one was from a Yarn Pirate tencel wool blend that bled rather badly when hand swished. I took a friend's advice and let the Yarn Pirate folks know about the bleeding issue and promptly got a nice reply. It seems the first batches had some 'issues.' I was offered yarn as a replacement. Never to turn down the offer of free yarn, I got this yummy stuff within the week. I noted it doesn't contain any tencel. I suspect the dye was not sticking to this fiber as well as the wool. I felt a bit guilty since the garment is still usuable, though faded. The original yarn was a gift, so it's 'free' yarn to replace yarn I didn't pay for in the first place.

My brain and butt hurt

Yesterday was my first day on Ravelry. Every time someone mentioned it on the Socknitters Yahoo group, I checked where I was in the queue. I felt like a stalker. I knew it would be this weekend.
I am a list maker by nature, so a place to show your lists off and have them all in the same format? Heaven. I must have spent 8 hours uploading stuff. I didn't have a Flikr account, so I had to do that too. I had to hobble away from the computer to pick up daughter and her husband at the airport. They had left town for a college friend's wedding. A couple of more hours and a back spasm later, I figured I better deal with this mess. That's the laundry I was allegedly doing while online. I'd gotten it out of the dryer quickly enough so as to avoid wrinkles, but the stuff just wasn't going to fold itself.

Then being distracted by the wonders of Ravelry land led to the near ruin of a new pair of socks worn just once. I made these from both Panda Cotton and Wool because I had received one skein of each colorway as a gift. The cotton is machine washable, the wool is not. Luckily I take my handknit machine washable socks out of the dryer while still damp. They looked awful small, then I remembered the wool content. In my defense, it has been the first time wearing socks since last April or May, but still... I couldn't get them on my feet! Then I remembered I had a pair of sock stretchers. Much tugging later, they dried and I could wear them. They are a bit slouchy from so much trauma, but are wearable. These are so October.
I forced myself to step away from the computer after 9 pm. There was TV to watch and I did not want to get a further behind in my shows. Last week in Santa Barbara had both VCRs working overtime to capture my favorites. I had to turn the computer off to reduce the temptation of looking up just one more thing.
To "relax" I picked up the Coriolis sock I was trying to figure out. Working with Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters is making my head hurt. I was about to finish the heel flap when I realized there was no way this thing was going to fit my 10 inch foot. Somewhere along the way I missed a key point. And no wonder, to work one pattern, I've got to flip around to at least 6 different pages. Argh!!! The schematic on page 51 refers to the sections of the sock [pathway] as toe, lower foot, arch expansion, heel and leg. The Master Pattern on page 57 says to make toe XX inches long, then start the arch expansion. Hey! Where did the lower foot section go? The toe instructions are found on page 126, then back to 57 for the arch expansion. I hadn't quite understood the calculation of a key number on page 112, so I came up with one too small. I then went through all the machinations on the arch expansion, but without the lower foot section being long enough, it just was not going to work.
I thought about it, realizing I did not need the socks for anyone, so a goal of learning something new, I frogged it back to the toe. I recalculated the key number, then compared where I thought I was going with the Coriolis instructions on the DIY network's website. The number I figured out is over half an inch longer than the one she cited for a 10 inch foot. I guess I'll just split the difference.
My beef is that if this is supposedly a Master Pattern why aren't the directions all in one place? Does Master Pattern mean you need a Master's degree to figure it out? Wait, I've got one of those and it didn't help.... But I am stubborn, so going back to toe and be sure to put in that lower foot section.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ravelry at last!

I haven't been keeping up with the blog and have now added a new internet commitment. My Ravelry invite arrived today. I am Taniasews. I'm happy to have the same name I have all across the 'net so I won't forget it. All I have done so far is done a bit of a profile and uploaded 2 of the 9 works I have in progress.

I know I've been remiss here and vow to do much better. Since I last posted over a month ago, we've been to Las Vegas and Santa Barbara. My classes out in El Cajon started, so that's 3 hours each for the Crochet and Knitting Workshops. The class projects, my own flights of fancy and a Christmas present have me bouncing around between WIPs. Then there's the new TV season where I am auditioning some shows and deciding whether to keep the old ones in the rotation. I have been knitting and crocheting like a fiend. I will get everything updated soon, I promise.