st joan

knitting - June 2012

I have a zillion projects I want to be working on currently, but I'm doing my best to try and finish off the things I'm still working on first. With the possible exception of Darren's winter sweater...

I finished my multi-colored socks (with just enough yarn!):

and my stripey socks:

my cardigan body is complete, and since I took this photo over the weekend, I've finished that sleeve:

and the top from hell is nearly at the fiddly bit:

and, unusually for me, I'm doing a pair of toe-up socks, in this spectacular yarn I got in Florida (I've decided instead of buying souveniers, I'm going to buy yarn from a local shop instead):

Keeping busy, at any rate!
st joan

Thoughts on knitting

One of my knitting friends has a wonderfully clear perspective on her knitting. If she doesn't like it, she'll pull it out and start over. A few months back, she spent a good two hours unravelling a sweater she had made - and worn - and has since reknit it into a cardigan. She explained that while she liked the style of the sweater, she didn't like the way the colors in the yarn had 'pooled' (when you used multi-colored yarn sometimes one particular color will accumulate row after row in the same place and the results aren't always great), and she knew it would annoy her enough to not wear the sweater at all. She loves the cardigan she knit and it will get a lot more wear, and all in all, it was a very logical, practical thing for her to do.

Of course, sometimes it is difficult to acknowledge the logical, practical things. You look at how much time and effort you put into the project. You try and convince yourself you can probably 'live with it'.

However, I have decided to take a page from Allison's book and pull out a good 8" of plain knitting in a cardigan I'm working on, because the textured band I did earlier on is nowhere near wide enough. It looked fine when the cardigan was only 5" long, but now, a dozen or so rows from completion, it just looks, well, silly. And although I can look at those hours and hours of stocking stitch and think 'what a waste', I also know that it will annoy me every single time I go to wear it and will probably make me NOT wear it, and what would be the good of that? So tonight, I'm going to go home and pull out all that hard work, and redo it.

This is why you should work on cardigans and sweaters in the summer...
st joan

Thoughts on motorcycling...

A girlfriend of mine at home once said 'You need to be really paranoid to ride a motorcycle - you have to look at every other vehicle on the road and think 'What is this person going to do to try and kill me today?'' She is completely correct in this.

This morning, out of a line of vehicles, I was the only one who moved over to the other lane to allow the guy waiting on the side street to join the traffic. Maybe he'll remember that and will *see* that motorcycle, rather than change lanes on top of it. Of course, he's not to know I was just following one of the basic laws of motorcycling - stay as far away from other vehicles as possible. Plus, I'm just that nice! :)

It's always a little cooler out than it looks.

People who say they ride a motorcycle because it's economical are lying. Or they're riding for entirely the wrong reasons.

Motorcycling gives you lots of time to think. This is, perhaps, not always a good thing. I've done two trips to central Australia with two different boyfriends over the years, and broke up with each of them not long after we got back...

My motorcycle boots are older than some of my friends. Wonderfully comfortable though - Italians know boots, what can I say? Speaking of my boots, I really need to stop wearing them as snow boots in the winter. They're the only boots I can stand - anything else, even high tops, rubs that little bone on the side of my ankles raw.

One thing I miss riding here is that I don't know many people locally who ride - when I had a bike at home, it was because I'd spent my time dating guys who rode bikes, so lots of my friends had them too. We would go on motorcycle rallies probably once a month (one thing I don't miss - sleeping in a tent!) and I spent my 21st birthday in Tibooburra, which is an awful long way from anywhere, mostly on dirt roads. And because that wasn't remote enough, we went on to Noccundra from there! Frankly, I'm surprised it warranted a Wiki page. So - yeah - I could do without camping anytime soon. In this lifetime.

I had thought, in the last year or so, that I might sell my bike. She'd sat in the driveway, unridden, for at least 18 months. I know if I sell her, I won't ever buy another one. And I'm not quite ready to admit that just yet. This morning, I was really glad I hadn't. Will probably be even more so going home!
st joan


As with any hobby, there are - these days - blogs and websites and a zillion things that people who have a specific interest in can read. One of my favorite blogs is by a Canadian lady who blogs as the Yarn Harlot*. She's been so successful at this that she now has in print half a dozen books, sells patterns, and pretty much supports herself that way. She's also quite funny. And - more importantly for our story - she has a HUGE readership.

Now, there's also this little site called Ravelry, which is an interesting combination of message board and database for those involved in the 'fiber arts'. They have hundreds upon thousands of patterns listed (some free, some for sale) and many types of yarn and you can cross-reference these things with amazing ease. On their pattern page they have a little section called 'hot right now' and this is where these two come together. Because when the Yarn Harlot mentions a specific pattern in her blog, you'll see that pattern not only on top of the 'hot right now' list, but thousands of views above the next most popular pattern:

The Yarn Harlot doesn't blog every day (though she does probably several times a week) and if I see a pattern has spiked interest, I'll go check her blog :)

*this link will take you to her entry about the 'Color Affection' scarf you can see on Ravelry. And if you scoff at the thought of a 'sock camp', let me tell you that spots for those things sell out in MINUTES.
st joan

Knitting stuff

One of the good things about going to see my friend Judy in Ohio is that I got to give her the replacement socks I made her (she had made a pair of socks for herself that were a little small, so she gave them to me - sadly, they were a little small for me also, so I passed them on):

They are based on the same pattern of the socks she gave me, but I cheated and did the foot plain. I've also finished a pair for myself - I call them my purple honeybadgerette socks, because, once again, I did the foot plain. It's just how I am!

This is my scarf (pre-blocking) - it's done in two halves and then sewn together in the middle:

It's blocked now, and I just need to sew the middle seam and tuck in the ends.

I've started some new dark blue every day socks, just to give me something to do.
st joan

To Huron and Back

Last Wednesday, Jackson and I headed west to attend the American Whippet Club's National Show in Huron, OH. I have a friend who lives about 100 miles south of there, so our plan was to go to her place Wednesday night, head up to Huron Thursday, stay at the hotel Thursday night, come back to Baltimore OH Friday and then come home Saturday. And that's exactly what we did! Some thoughts on the trip:

Heading west on I64 there was rain, fog and smoke. The first two helped with the third, and when we came back on Saturday the smoke was gone, and everything smelled charred. You could see in places where the fires nearly came to the interstate, and why it was closed for several hours earlier in the week. Hopefully the ongoing rain has helped put them all out.

Sheetz Brothers have expanded their empire into West Virginia, so I was able to get coffee for me and gas for my little red car and a bag of the world's cutest animal crackers for Jackson and I to share.

I do love my Sirius radio - I got to listen to an hour long concert by Midnight Oil recorded live at Glastonbury in 1993.

There is a Jackson County in West Virginia - if it wasn't raining, I'd have stopped and taken a photo.

The Capital Building dome in Charleston always looks pretty, even in the rain the gold glows.

It occured to me that if you could take a photo of Interstates 64 and 77 from the side, they would look remarkably like the state abbreviation - WV. Lots of downs, followed by long, steep climbs. You know when you get a sign saying 'left lane - no trucks' that you've got a long climb ahead of you. At one point there is a 4.5 mile descent at 7% grade - I'm sure that stretch did wonders for my mileage, I didn't have my foot on the accelerator nearly the whole way down. And my little red car continues to impress me - she sat between 70 and 75mph without a problem.

Of course, once you leave the interstate system, that top speed drops to 55mph, which feels incredibly slow.

Along US33W in Ohio there are several 'park and ride' signs - which is all very good, but ride to where??? Columbus is a hundred miles away...

There was also a sign for the 'Fur Peace Ranch and Concert Hall' - no idea what that is.

Both Jackson and I got to visit my friend Judy's office - I'm waiting for her to tell me that when she went back the next day there was a sign saying 'no dogs'. :)

Judy's dog Henry is very sweet, and he was quite disappointed that Jackson did not want to play with him. Hard to explain to him that Jackson doesn't want to play with anybody (although we discovered there were a few pretty girls at the National he would have made an exception for!).

Years ago, the family and I were coming back from Minnesota, and we'd come through Michigan's Upper Peninsula and across the bridge between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Of course, we've seen Lake Superior many times. And we thought well, Lake Erie is just near here, we'll go take a look and once we came through Toledo we took a small detour into some little industrial town that - theoretically - is on Lake Erie. And ... we couldn't find it. We spent maybe half an hour looking, but no luck. Huron, OH, is on Lake Erie (yes, I don't understand the naming logic either) and here it is, with Jackson nicely standing in front of it, to prove it exists:

We met up with my friend Leslie at the National (Leslie owns Cricket, who is my Sawyer's littermate) and we looked at whippets, and toured around, and looked at more whippets and decided there was no way we could ever judge something like that as they were all gorgeous. We shared a room, and Jackson deemed the bed okay:

Friday afternoon Jackson and I participated in the rescue parade, with four other lovely dogs and after that we headed back to Ohio. We spent the night with Judy and family, got ice-cream (black raspberry!) and then headed home Saturday morning. Jackson slept most of the way:

Apparently Adele did a cover of The Cure's 'Lovesong' on her latest album - best estimates is that royalties from that earned Robert Smith around $3 million. Not bad!

Coming back into Virginia from WV there is a big sign that says 'Drive Safely - Come Again Soon!' but, oddly, it's on the other lane. I'm guessing the other side is the 'welcome to West Virginia' sign, but it still seemed strange.

At some stage I need to go see the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is, according to the signs, 65 miles off I64. Also the BlueDogArt Cafe in Buena Vista, which is much closer.

Jackson has forgiven me for forgetting his bear, but has slept near it most of the time since we've been home.

Next year's National is in Oregon, so I doubt I'll make that one, but the year after is in Maryland - just up the street!
st joan

Little Black Dog update

The Little Black Dog, by the way, is doing really well, has survived all his treatments (though he'll need a final confirmation next month) and has done his level best to make sure he doesn't live anywhere but with us. My husband took him to work to show him to a few people and he spent his time cowering under the desk. Then, of course, he came home and bounced happily all over the house...

Admittedly, he is a cutie:

st joan

On (and off) the needles - April 2012

Hmm - I wonder if I could manage this updating thing once a month...

So, since my last update, I have finished:

Adrienne's Nashville socks:

Stephanie's gray scarf:

Jennifer's 'amazing' seed stitch scarf:

Anne's Nashville socks:

Angela's birthday scarf:

Stephanie's socks:

and another pair of surprise socks that I can't show yet!

I've also started a sweater for the hubby:

and a scarf for myself (from some yarn a friend gave me for Christmas):

I have also, rather terrifyingly, photographed all my 'yarn stash'.
st joan

Little Black Dog update

Otis survived his neutering, and I'm sure he can walk much easier now that his enormous testicles are gone - it must be a small dog thing - my friend and I have a theory that dog testicles come in one size, no matter the size of the dog. They took another x-ray while he was 'under', and his spine is healing nicely, and whatever was going on with his tummy seems to have resolved itself. All in all, he looked well enough to start heartworm treatment.

Heartworm treatment is a pretty severe thing - basically, a compound that includes arsenic is injected into the animal two days in a row, and this will kill the heartworms. Of course, then you have a big bunch of dead heartworms that will slowly decay / be absorbed / filter out of the body. This process takes a couple of weeks, and during that time it is really important to keep the animal QUIET. Calm and quiet. If they're not quiet, and they get their heart really pumping, chunks of dead heartworms can break off and obviously you don't want chunks of anything washing along your veins.

Otis does not do quiet. He is on, or he is off. There's really nothing in between. Being a small dog, he tends to pelt around the house like he's in a pinball machine at the best of times. It's really cute listening to his little paws click-clacking on the wooden floors at a million miles an hour. He takes little, bitty steps, and many of them. We tried keeping him in his crate, where he spends the daytime hours when we're out quite happily. He did not like being in his crate when we were home - in fact, he got so frantic, we figured he was probably doing more damage in than out. So we leave him out when we're home, and we try and make sure he doesn't run around the back yard like a crazy thing too much, and so far he's made it to one week post heartworm treatment and hasn't keeled over.

It's a miracle.
st joan

on the needles - January 2012

I've been knitting, on and off, since I was 8 or so. Some days I feel more energetic about it than others, but when I have the bug I often have several items on the go at once. I am, sadly, quite good at not getting things finished, which is why I tend to stick to smaller things like scarves and socks. That said, I even have a few half-finished socks, which really shouldn't be possible. I have six large plastic boxes of yarn at home that I need to sort and assign a project to, or get rid of - those are the choices. A lot of the time I'll buy one skein, just because I like it, and then what am I going to do with one skein??

So far this year I've finished a shawl for myself:

have started two pairs of socks for friends:

and started a scarf for a friend as well:

We'll see how long this enthusiasm lasts...