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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

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House of Two Restaurants

Lunchtime has gotten a little more exciting here lately. The girls have been taking turns playing "restaurant". It was Daughter#2's idea. She started by writing out a menu and having us wait in the hallway to be seated.

click for bigger picture[Click on the menu to view a complete list of the Lily Pad's offerings.]

Daughter#2 seated my party (which consisted of Daughter#1 and me) at a nicely set table with a view of the garden. She took our orders quite courteously and efficiently. She prepared all of the food herself (I was ordered to remain seated at the table -- and I was not about to complain). Our food was quite good, except for one small oversight. My peanut butter and banana sandwich had accidentally been made sans banana, so I had to send it back. The waitress took this in stride and quickly remedied the situation, explaining that she had been distracted by trying to make soup at the same time.

click for bigger pictureThe pencil behind the ear was a nice touch.

My dining companion and I both agreed that our lunch was excellent and the service was outstanding. We promised our waitress that we would return again soon, especially after getting our bill and seeing how affordable The Lily Pad is.

What a bargain!

Of course, the next day Daughter#1 wanted to give waitressing a try, so she created her own restaurant.

click for bigger picture[Click on the picture to view the menu offerings at Moo Bear's Restaurant.]

It was another enjoyable lunch. Now if I can just get them to do the dishes...


Friday, May 26, 2006

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Yeah, I suck at being regular

No, I didn't drown in the flooding, I'm just a lazy slug who doesn't blog often. No, really, I've been quite busy and every time I sat down to blog, something came up to interrupt my spare time. I've even been sucked back into my computer consulting work, although only temporarily. And now there is gardening to do. Anyhow, thank you for your patience, dear readers. I will try to post more regularly.

At long last, I present to you photos of my Lady E. stole that I finished almost a month ago. Feast your eyes on its lovely colorifitude.

click for bigger pictureNo, that tiny butt does NOT belong to me.

click for bigger pictureI finally got someone to model this for me. I am notoriously camera shy, and, anyway, it would be hard for me to take my own photo while wearing this. It can be a complicated business getting this thing to drape properly, or maybe I am just a stole-wearing novice.

My lovely model here is my about-to-become-a-high-school-graduate niece, aka Niece#1. She also goes by the alias Oh, Jane. when online. [I was instructed that I must include the period in her name -- and she says that I am anal.] She is starting her own blog to show off her artwork. She is super-talented and creative, so I can't wait to see more of her work, especially since I don't get to see her very often. If you go to her blog now you may still be able to see her temporary test post, which contains a picture of her at 8 years old, standing behind my daughters who were only about a week old. Too cute!

OK, back to the stole, here are the details:

Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole, by Kathleen Power Johnson, from Scarf Style
Noro (boo, hiss) Silk Garden [45% silk, 45% kid mohair, 10% lambswool],
color: #217, about 12.5 balls
US 7 or 8 [Crap, I waited too long to write this up and I, in my apparent early senility, cannot remember which needle I used)
about 4-4.5sts/inch (it's hard to tell from the stole). Anyway, my gauge was way smaller than the 3.5sts/inch in the pattern.
22" wide by 78" long, excluding fringe. Fringe adds about 13.5" at each end.
I did an extra 2 rectangles in width to make up for using thinner yarn than the pattern called for. I also did about a million rows of rectangles. [OK, I counted. I actually did 55 'tiers' of rectangles instead of the 35 in the pattern. It just felt like a million.]
I enjoyed making this stole and I love how it came out. I have gotten over my crisis about the lavender. Learning to knit backwards really helped with my enjoyment of this project. If I had to turn the stole every 8 stitches, it would have been a huge drag.
Also, although I do LOVE the colors that apparently only Noro can provide (and why is that?), I will no longer be purchasing yarn from them due to my enormous frustration with the knottiness (naughtiness?) of their yarn. Four knots in one expensive ball is 4 knots too many. Don't worry, they will definitely be receiving an email from me on Yarn Rant Day (read the PDF about this here).

click for bigger pictureWhat a cute model. However, please note that she is much shorter than me. The stole does not come as close to dragging on the ground when I wear it.

In the book, they show this stole also worn as a scarf. I tried to do a shot like that and this is what I got.

Ummm, not so good.

OK, I tried again (my model was getting a little sick of me by this time) and it kind of works as a scarf, but only if your neck is really, really cold.

click for bigger pictureNo drafts can get near this neck.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this project. After the first few tiers of rectangles it becomes some nice mindless knitting. However, I suggest that you check out some alternatives to Noro Silk Garden, such as La Lana Wools Forever Random Blends (the yarn used in the book) or Karaoke by Southwest Trading Company. There must be other alternatives; please let me know if you find any.


Monday, May 08, 2006

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Socks, Summer Cottages, and a Day to Rant

Howdy, I'm back from Rhode Island and ready to blog. First of all, let me just say that the yarn store in Newport was kind of a disappointment. Rachel, be glad you didn't put down that Corona. You didn't miss anything. No exciting yarns, no interesting supplies, and a musty smell. Bah, barely worth the walk down Thames Street. I did buy two balls of something or other that was on sale, but it's not worthy of a picture. Well, at least my fellow travellers were glad that I didn't make them wait long.

We had a great time in Newport -- there was much eating, drinking, shopping, knitting, and general relaxing. Didn't take many pictures, just this one:

click for bigger pictureRequisite tourist photo of dork standing in front of giant mansion.
[Uncool Guy gamely agreed to be said 'dork'.]

That's The Breakers, the 70-room summer "cottage" built by the Vanderbilts. Too bad they don't let you take pics inside, some of the rooms were quite resplendent.

I got some knitting done on the trip, but it was mostly swatching really. I am between projects and I'm having a hard time deciding what to make next. I started a couple projects. More on those next time.

Before I forget, I need to talk about the upcoming Yarn Rant Day that Anne of knitspot is organizing. It's designed to be a day on which knitters around the world send emails to yarn companies that make poor quality yarn. Join us on June 1st, and write an email (or two or three) complaining about excessive knots in yarn (can you say "Noro"?), strange twigs and burrs in yarn (ummm, Noro again), yarns that pill excessively, colors that fade dramatically on first washing, or whatever other major yarn-related annoyances you have encountered.

The idea is to let the yarn companies know that we're mad as heck and we won't buy bad yarn anymore. Anne is hoping that the yarn manufacturers will pay more attention if a whole bunch of complaint emails are delivered on the same day. Ahhhh, we can dream, right? Download Anne's PDF flyer to read more about it.

click for bigger pictureSpeaking of Anne, I have finally finished the socks I was making from the handspun yarn she sent me. I was originally thinking of making socks with a lacy pattern or maybe some cables, but then I decided that I would rather just knit a plain stockinette pair. The color transitions are the focus of this yarn, and I didn't want to obscure that with a 'busy' pattern. So I went with boring old stockinette, but I don't think they came out boring at all. I love them.

Plain stockinette socks, with an eye-of-partridge heel, and my shaped toes.
Wool yarn that was spun and dyed by Anne of knitspot
Addi 2.5mm
8.5 sts/inch
I love the colors of this yarn and the way it blends from one shade to the next. There did not seem to be any real color repeat here, so it's a good thing I like nonmatching socks. ;-)

Left Sockclick for bigger picture

Right Sockclick for bigger picture

I knit these socks top-down, and things were a little tense for me as I was finishing up the second sock. See if you can guess why by looking at the photo below.

I was totally running on fumes at the end of these socks. I had less than 3yds of yarn left -- a little too close for comfort. I guess I can now appreciate the need for toe-up socks in certain circumstances.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

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A million freaking knots

Want to know what I did until 3:30AM last night? No, I was not dancing the night away. Nor was I watching an exciting trilogy on DVD, or reading an engrossing novel. Nope, I was making a million little knots in this darn thing.

click for bigger pictureKnotted fringe takes FOR-EV-ER.

Making 8 rows of knots on each end of my Lady Eleanor Stole took me about 6 hours! And that doesn't include time spent crocheting the edges (then ripping it out and doing it over, and over, and over yet again). Granted, I did make an extra row of knots (can you say "masochist"?). And I did waaaaaaay more strands of fringe than stated in the pattern (but my yarn is thinner and it looked too wispy when spaced wider). But still, making knotted fringe is a slow business. I knew there was a reason I was putting it off.

I just have weave in some more ends and trim the fringe, and then I'll do the final photo shoot. Maybe I'll even have an opportunity to wear it in a couple of days on our child-free weekend getaway to Newport, Rhode Island this weekend. Hey, does anybody know of any good yarn stores in that area?

Oh, and here is a preview of the socks I am making with the handspun yarn I won in Anne's mystery cable contest. I LOVE the way the colors are blending. So very lovely. And not a knot to be found ;)

I'm almost done with these socks, so more pics soon. [Yeah, right. I always say that and then I take forever. Sigh.]