Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Knitting Serendipity

Last summer, I bought some yarn. Some really beautiful yarn. Not very much of it...just two balls. It was expensive at $13.00 for 60 meters. This always happens when I go to my LYS, Fiber Art, Inc. There's a forcefield that draws me first into the Noro room, then into the sock yarn room, then I begin wandering all of the other little rooms becoming more and more indecisive because there are just so many "shiny things", and I end up with an armload of yarns with no definate plans for their use. But they look really nice stacked into my antique cedar armoire and I WILL use them. They're insurance. The yarns and the patterns I've collected (my 3 inch binder is almost full, plus 2 dozen knitting books and this just since I restarted knitting in May 2009 with my sister's shawl as the first project) are and affirmation of life. I intend to use all of them someday, and I'll have to live forever in order to do so.

The yarn I selected that day last summer was Noro Silk Garden Chunky in a purple/green/blue blend of 45% silk, 45% kid mohair and 10% lamb's wool.  Before I'd ever heard of Noro, I borrowed a book from the library called Knitting Noro: the magic of knitting with hand-dyed yarns by Jane Ellison.  I was awed by the beauty of the colors in all of the pattern projects, but I couldn't afford the many balls of yarn needed to knit a whole sweater (let's see, 60 yards per ball and I need 900 yards or so, that's 15 balls at $13.00 for $195.00).  A very small project would be needed.  I found one on Ravelry and I can't remember exactly how, it was a happy accident.  The pattern is called "Deep Sea Flower Dice Bag".  Apparently people make little bags to carry their dice.  I'm not sure why...Yahtzee enthusiasts?...in case a game of craps pops up at the office?  Dunno.  But it's a little bag and it does kind of look like a flowery thing that might grow out of a coral formation.  And it used hand-dyed Noro yarn.  Just one ball of it.  Perfect.  This pattern required learning how to handle 5 double pointed needles (someday...socks) and making I-chords.  Piece of cake!  And it was fun and fast.  The silk blend yarn felt wonderful in my hands.  In just a few hours, I had a bag.  Now, to decide what it might be used for and who would I give it to?  I had to take a picture.  I took several with my trusty little Panasonic Lumix.  Then I looked at the camera and looked at the bag.  It seemed that the camera would fit right in.  I didn't have a camera bag.  The fit was perfect.  I now have the most unique and beautiful camera bag ever.  And I made it myself.  Life is good.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Random Act of Kindness

A recent thread on Ravelry posed the question “What is your ultimate knitting pattern…something you’d like to knit before you die”. I’ve had my eye on one pattern since my cousin, Eric, turned me onto it. It’s a sweater from a Japanese pattern book, Couture Knit 13, Neat, Beautiful Knits. I mentioned it in the thread and was subsequently contacted by a new Ravelry friend who said a Japanese bookstore in New York near where she lived had the book and she could get it for me. I happily responded with my address and requested that she let me know how much total for the book and shipping, offering to send a check or pay her with Paypal. The next week, I received the beautiful book with a sweet note telling me not to worry about payment, that this was a gift. It’s one of the nicest things anyone, let alone someone I’ve never met in person, has ever done for me. I wrestled with the idea of sending her a check anyway, but instead baked a batch of cookies and sent them with the recipe and a 2010 Burgert Brothers calendar. Now, I only hope I can improve my knitting skills enough to do this pattern justice. Here are pictures of the sweater that caught my eye (every pattern in the book is sublime), and the note from my friend, (((Lenora))).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Big Freeze Aftermath

For the last few days, we’ve been back to our normal balmy temperature and humidity after a full week of below freezing temps at night. It’s time to do what we can to clean up the yard. It was with trepidation that we removed the heat lamp and the tent made of sheets and blankets from around the orchid table. To our surprise, all 80 or so orchids looked healthy and green. Several even bloomed! We took the remaining orchids out of the garage and the house to get some sun and some much-needed rain.

Yard casualties include our Traveler’s Palm, which was just getting big. It was spongy and brown almost down to the base. I’m hoping that the roots are okay (it was wrapped). Plumeria and desert roses also suffer from spongy rot and will have to be cut way back. We’re doing that now, as the rot tends to spread and kill the whole plant. If you cut it now (and protect it from further cold), it may stop the spread. Cardboard palm (coontie), hibiscus, rubber plants and ixora are all brown leaves, but should recover. Leaving those until spring returns.

So, Wayne decided to launder the umpteen bazillion sheets and blankets we used to cover stuff. Guess what happens to an old blue velux blanket that’s been left out in the elements for a week and then thrown into a washer! It makes blue soup. Wayne opened the washer (trusty 23 yr old Maytag) before the spin cycle to find the blanket had disintegrated entirely. We used hands and a sieve to fish out all of the blue bits, squishing the water out and tossing the sopping mess into a trash bag. Took about 10 minutes. At least the plants will have clean sheets to wear for the next freeze, though I really wonder why that matters. Hubby’s a bit OC about stacking mildly dirty fabric in his garage. Our garage is a marvel of myriad tools and stuff, with just a narrow aisle down which to walk.

Knucklehead, Lenny and Sasha (Caliope is a loner, and won’t get up on our bed) have become used to sleeping on our bed since we bought the electric blanket (first night after the freeze and our central heat stopped working). We put the blanket away last night, but the cats are still on it. Here’s a good excuse for not being able to make your bed:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Paul

To my dear brother,

Though we're far apart, you're never far from my thoughts. I wish you the happiest of birthdays. I love you and I'm sorry I didn't quite finish the knitted birthday gift, instead sending used tshirts (though quite nice vintage ones from WMNF). After all, it's so freakin soon after Christmas and I just finished knitting all that stuff.  The family motto should be "Is ero tardus, tamen is ero illic".

My rock star brother, Paul, with Whiskey Bitch at the Surly Wench Pub:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Top Ten Reasons Why Frigid Weather in Tampa is a Good Thing

@#$% it’s cold. Feh! At least I’m not in International Falls, Minnesota, though I’m sure it’s a perfectly nice place to live. We’re not used to temps in the 30’s. It was 31 when I left for work this morning. Tampa is the 10th hottest city in the US, but for days, it’s been cold here and the forecast is for more of the same for another week. It will be in the 40’s for a high on Saturday with a low in the 20’s and maybe it will snow for the first time since 1977. Wayne has been miserable. He puts on long johns when the temperature drops below 60. He’s taking care of the orchids and other tropical plants, though. He built a tent in the backyard with a heat-lamp in it for them.

We have too many to bring them all into the house. The yard (and everyone else’s in the neighborhood), looks like it’s full of ghosts wearing multicolored sheets, as we’ve covered the plumeria, hibiscus, birds of paradise and bromeliads.

It occurred to me today that there are good things that come out of seemingly bad situations like this. That happened when one of my coworkers, Shelly, told me that she was taking up a collection to buy an electric blanket for another coworker, Bunny, who has no heat in her house except for a space heater in the bathroom (many here do not…10th hottest city and all that crap). At lunch, Shelly went and purchased the really plush blanket and gave it to Bunny with a card we all signed. It was a very warm and fuzzy moment.

Here’s my list of 10 good things…

10. Hot chocolate.

9. I can wear my sweaters.

8. I can wear my leather pants.

7. I can wear my charcoal wool swing coat.

6. I can wear my scarves.

5. I can wear the elegant leather gloves my mother gave me.

4. Lenny Bruce doesn’t wake me up at 3 am to go outside. He’s been in all night for the last 3 nights snuggled up in bed with us (he’s our wild tiger cat).

3. We have a fire in the fireplace for the first time in 4 years.

2. Chances of a hurricane are nil.

And the number 1 reason:

1. Bunny will sleep warm tonight.