New “cure” for rain..

I’m afraid I may have found a new cure for bad weather. It’s not one I’m likely to attempt regularly, though.

This morning dad and I awoke to overcast skies that quickly opened up into rain. Given that we were planning to start the deck construction this morning, we were a little concerned, but decided to run into town for breakfast and to run a few errands and see what things looked like when we got home. Some $300 later, the sun was breaking through and we were back on our way home to begin the framing for the deck. I’m trying not to think about how monetary “sacrifices” to the weather deities might work, but I am hoping the storm we’re getting now moves through before morning!

Even with a somewhat truncated working day, we did get the deck framed and the decking down:

Photobucket View standing at the back door (As usual, all are clickable thumbnails.)
Photobucket View standing under the pergola on the patio, with a bonus shot of the little black pig

Yesterday dad pressure washed the existing decking, so while the color shift from the old to the new is noticeable it’s not nearly as glaring as it would have been had he not taken the time and effort (thanks, dad!). He also built the railing between the house and the stairs and on the stairs, all while I was at work.

At the moment, the deck is quite lovely and even though it’s only 8×16, is rather large enough for my tastes. Here’s a shot with the deck furniture (a decent chunk of the “sacrifice” from this morning) we assembled this evening for some scale:

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The table is 42″ and there are four rocker chairs, all of which fit comfortably on the new part of the deck. It may feel a little more enclosed tomorrow once the rest of the fence and the railing is in place, but even so it’s a grand little spot to sit and watch the birds. I can’t wait to be able to step out on a sunny morning with a cup of coffee and watch the neighborhood wake up!

It’s all over but the seaming.

Right then.. so, for reasons recently explained, my knitterly ambition has been somewhat scarce this year. All the same, I’ve been working on a blue v-neck cabled sweater intermittently for the last several months and last night I finished the last bit of knitting:

Photobucket (As usual, clickable thumbnails. The flash in my camera tends to over-expose things, and I pr’bly corrected a smidge too much in this one; the next one is more color accurate on my monitor.)

Jali thought that it was just fine that way:

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..but it still needs side and underarm seams, and to have the ends woven in, both of which I’ll pr’bly do tonight. This was my first foray into saddle shoulders and while it was a bit of a surprise not to be done with the sleeves when I thought I should be, I like how they turned out:

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(Sorry for the blurriness of that one.) I also am pleased with the neck, which I was afraid was going to end up *way* too large.

Unfortunately, the Coriolis socks have languished while I worked on the sweater, partially because I’m afraid they’re going to be too big, even though I’m getting spot on stitch and row gauge (which makes me think I was too generous in my measurements).

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These are for mom, though, and she knows about them (and that they’ll be late) so I’ll have her try them on tomorrow night to see how they’re fitting. I haven’t wanted to keep working on them if they’re just going to get ripped out, so the sweater was a good diversion.

Stairs.

Before:

This is the best shot I have of the stairs before we started doing any remodeling. This is actually from the day we closed on the house and I wasn’t really focused on getting great shots of the stairs from the top, but you can at least sort of see what they had in for carpet on the stairs.

After:

The left shot is the three steps from the landing to the upstairs hall; the middle is the main staircase from the top; the right is the main staircase from the bottom. Folks who make carpet runners for stairs are tricksy – see how the pattern lines up on each step? It’s kind of neat, but totally unplanned on our part!

And this is what Jali thinks of all this remodeling nonsense:

Neuroses.


For a little dog, she has some bit neuroses.

She has abandonment issues. Which is understandable; she was abandoned, pregnant as far as we could tell, in the wilds of Mississippi when she was about 3. By the time she was caught, by the ranger at the summer camp I was working at, she’d whelped the litter and we can only assume none survived. She was malnourished (because scavenging garbage doesn’t really make for nutritious eating) and rather pathetic, but still savvy enough to wag her little tail at the sucker who walked around the corner. *smile*

But yes, neurotic. At it’s worst – when we move – it’s quite obvious that she’s panicked. But even when it’s not so bad, it’s .. bad. Like if either one of us starts to pack, for a day or a week. She *hates* when a bag or a suitcase comes out. She *knows* at least one of us is leaving. Leaving her. Alone.

There are times when it’s unavoidable – I’ll have to pack a suitcase for a week away. I’ll put it off as long as possible so that she’s not traumatized quite so long, but it’s always miserable. She doesn’t do anything bad. She just.. looks at you with those big brown eyes that look like she’s going to cry at any minute (except that she’s a dog and can’t cry) and sits there. Miserable.

And it’s no better when she gets to come with us because we can’t explain to her that yes, we’re packing, but it’s okay, because we aren’t going to leave without her. Until we start to pack *her* things, she doesn’t understand. (And once we start to pack her things, she gets so terribly excited that we have to wait until just before we’re leaving to do it or she’ll drive us nuts or kill herself from anticipation.)

We’ve learned some tricks – like letting her out the back door and then hustling out the front door with bags that we’ve surreptitiously managed to get packed and loading them into the car. Or distracting her when it’s just one of us leaving with a Kong full of peanut butter.

But sometimes, no distraction is readily available, so we.. wait. And wait. And wait some more. And finally the morning we’re supposed to leave, we run around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to pack at the last minute. And remember that we need socks and toothbrushes and shoes and where’s my belt?

All because the little dog with the big neuroses has also claimed our hearts.

Rust, varnish and mud.

Note: My extended family has recently broadened their internet horizons and since at least one of my uncles (Hi, Uncle Jerry!) likes to know what we’re up to, I’ve pointed them here. This shouldn’t change what I post about, but you may find that I put in more explanation than usual to keep things clear.

Things might seem quiet lately, but only because I’ve been trying to work in the garden and start working on some home improvement stuff lately, so I’ve not had much progress in knitting bits to report. *shrug* I’m still working on the Flaming Candle Scarf during my morning commute and I have the front of the Brioche Bodice about half complete, so there might be more interesting things to see in a few days.

In the yard, things are growing fast. The yellow flowers that I think are a variety of coneflower are doing well and very pretty. The phlox hasn’t started blooming yet, but the plants are getting to about the right height to start kicking out flowers. I have one lonely little orange lily stuck in the midst of the yellow flowers that’s just bloomed the last day or two and I’m trying to decide if I should snip it and bring it inside to enjoy.

(All pictures are clickable thumbnails; clicking on the picture will open a larger verison of it.)

There’s a mystery flower popping up in the front lawn direcly underneath the bushes. It’s beautiful, but I have no idea what it is other than to speculate based on leaf-shape that it’s related to a bleeding heart. The flower looks more like a fuschia to me, but they aren’t supposed to grow “wild” here. Part of why I want to identify it is so I can figure out how to transplant it before we pull those bushes out or it will probably get pulled out with the bushes when they go.

The roses have also started blooming, both the bright pink bush in the front and the light pink old fashioned ones in the back.

The bush in the front seems to have become infested with “rust”, though, as has the big bush that I haven’t identified yet, so we picked up some fungicide today to try to make it go away. I have to wait to spray though because it’s threatening rain this afternoon.

The apple trees also appeared to have some sort of disease issue, but I looked it up on the Extension website and they said that it wasn’t something treatable, but also wasn’t something that was likely to cause permanent damage to the trees. We might not get as much fruit this year, but since we don’t actually harvest the apples to eat anyway, I’m not worried about it. They did advise, however, that we clear the deadfalls away completely at the end of the year to prevent this from coming back.

I planted the 4 O’Clocks and cukes in the interior bed and they seem to be surviving and maybe starting to thrive. The tomatoes were not as successful in the side bed. I think there’s a rather large colony of ants that managed to eat all the little baby tomato leaves in the course of two days. So in addition to the fungicide, we also picked up ant spikes to try to kill the colony. Once I’m not seeing active signs of ants in that bed, I’ll plant more seedlings (I didn’t plant all the first one I started because I worried that something might happen to the first set).

Inside, I’ve started stripping varnish off the window in the dining room. The orange stripping stuff we got works very well and is pretty easy, so that’s been kind of a fun project. I’m hoping to finish the window today and maybe start on the door frame between the dining room and the kitchen. The stripper says it works on paint and varnish and I would *LOVE* to get the nasty pale teal paint off the woodwork in the kitchen. It that goes well, the upstairs bathroom will be next, even though it’s “out of order”.

So far the stripped wood is beautiful. There enough of the color of the varnish soaked into the wood itself that it’s still dark even after a light sanding, but with all the old varnish stripped, you can actually see the wood grain. We may just sand it down and put a coat of polyeurethene over it instead of reapplying varnish.

I haven’t set up the pottery wheel yet, mostly because I’m still trying to devise a way to bring it to WW (which is a camping event for the SCA in Black River Falls) to set up at Artisan’s Row, which I’m coordinating this year. I’d love to have the wheel there for folks to try, along with some handbuilding stuff (assuming I can get Mark to spend some time on the Row doing handbuilding since it’s really not my area of expertise), but it’s rather cumbersome and we already load the car *full* to get our regular equipment there. There’s a possibility that we could make two trips, but that just seems extravagant, especially with gas prices where they are. But I’m not resigned to leaving it home yet, either, so it’s still in the garage awaiting a decision (it will eventually live in the basement, but since WW is so close, I didn’t want to carry it down there just to have to carry it back up in a couple weeks if I can find a way to get it there).

I need to do more beating of the bushes to get artisan’s for the Row, too. It sounds like we have a strong Dyer’s Corner contingent. I’ve also heard from an armorer, but I’m not sure if he will end up on the Row or over in Smith’s Corner, and one of the Shires is taking on scribal stuff. There’s a couple folks who’ve expressed interest in music, which I think would rock – imagine spending a day working on a project with a group of live musicians playing period (or period-esque) instruments in the background! – so I hope that pans out.

I’m a bit surprised not to have any carvers, cooks, or spinners/weavers/knitters yet, so I think I’ll drop a line to a couple guilds and see if I can get any takers. It seems that groups centered around a common theme will be more feasible, so I’m trying to promote that idea while still making sure it’s clear that individual artisan’s are more than welcome. I’m not inclined to stress over it overmuch, though. At least some stuff will happen, so that’s a good start.

In other more or less random news, our white Taurus died this week. The transmission went out on Jack while he was driving up the big hill on the way home. The car is 12 years old, so it’s not really worth putting more money into it to fix it. Fortunately, we commute together so we don’t *need* to replace it immediately. We’re doing some research and so far we think we’d like to try to get a used Pontiac Vibe, though we’re also planning to test drive a PT Cruiser to see what we think. Our second car just needs to get decent gas mileage (we don’t need something we can load up for events and the like because the grey Taurus works just fine for that), but we can’t afford to buy a new one, so we’re keeping an eye out for good deals.

Jali also had her annual check up this morning, complete with Distemper and Rabies shots. She’s getting old, so the vet essentially confirmed that some of the things we’ve started seeing in the last year – cataracts, trouble with her back legs – are just signs of aging and not anything acute we need to be worried about. He gave us some glucosamine treats for her that they’ve had good success with in helping with arthritic joints in dogs and suggested we use a special dental formulated food to keep tartar from building up and possibly causing infections, so we have a small bag of that to try out.

Productivity

Yea, pictures! All are clickable thumbnails.

So this wasn’t finished this weekend, but I did take pictures of it all together in one spot finally.


This is the fleece that mamacate sent me with my beautiful drop spindle. It was gorgeous to work with and now that I’ve spun some with other fleece I realize really just how much it helped to have a hand prepared fleece. The fibers weren’t packed too tight to pull them out in drafting easily, the wool was soft and beautiful to spin. I’m a little surprised that all that fluffy fleece only resulting in a comparatively little bit of yarn. Gives a whole new appreciation for how much wool is required to really make a sweater..!


This one shows the little snippet of merino from Carol. It’s beautiful, but it was slippery and as I was spinning it after most of the fleece from mamacate, the spindle was a bit heavy for it. I think starting with it from an empty spindle would make it easier to work with.

And now, onto a new fiber art! As I mentioned awhile back, my mother-in-law gave me an old rigid heddle loom at Christmas. I decided pretty much immediately that I wanted to use it to weave my first hand spun yarn (see above). Which meant I had to learn to warp it and then actually go through the motions and get it started. I sat down this afternoon and read the little instruction sheets and cut my warp strands and threaded the heddle and tied all the little knots and now it looks like I have Yet Another Fiber Hobby(tm).


I’ve only done a few passes, but I’ve already learned some things I’ll do differently next time. For instance, the holes in the heddle are rather small, so to get the warp yarn threaded I had to use a needle, which was too large to fit through one of the holes in the heddle (note the periodic gaps, which became a planned design element after I discovered the first, and possibly only, one). That added some time to the set up.

And now that I’ve started weaving, I wish it would pack more tightly, which is pr’bly due to my history with the tightness of most tablet weaving. I think that if I used thinner warp threads it would pack more tightly and also show off the weft yarn a bit better. I wanted a contrast, but the red really drowns out the subtle color shifts in the brown.

But, for a first project, it’s more than acceptable. *smile*

And lest you think I’ve been neglecting my knitting, rest assured that I did some of that this weekend, too. Most notably, I finished Jack’s sweater.


I did not, as it turns out need any of the extra skeins, but I’m glad I had them as it was darned close. The yarn is Cascade Cotton Rich and produced a rather heavy fabric, but it’s what he wanted, so it’s all okay. If I did it over, I’d do the neck differently as it is rather large.


..and because usually knitters post pictures of their feline companions with their knitting, here’s an obligatory picture of my little black pig who snuck in and curled up on the sweater while I was out on the porch taking pictures of my yarn in the natural light. She’s a comfort creature and given a choice will curl up on any piece of clothing one of us has worn and discarded in a convenient place. I guess even though Jack hasn’t worn the sweater yet, it smells enough like me from being knit that it meets her criteria.


My hopefully-next finished object will be the second of this sock. It’s the Cashsoft from Kim’s stash and it’s absolutely divine and soft and lovely and I can’t wait to wear them. The pattern is a study in screw-ups-come-design-feature. I also cast on with the Noro Lily I got recently in a trade for a ribbed tank, but that’s likely to take a little longer than the second sock to finish.

Things I want to get done in the next couple months include Rogue (finally!) and a couple of the projects in the Winter Interweave Knits, namely the Fair Isle 101 sweater and the socks. There were a couple other projects that piqued my curiousity, but I can’t recall them off the top of my head and am too lazy to dig out the magazine. The Fair Isle 101 sweater will be the precursor to the Blackberry Ridge sweater kit I got for my birthday/Christmas, so that will likely follow in time to wear it next fall.

I also managed to get my bike trainer set up (though I’m missing the rear axle and can’t seem to track down anyone who sells replacement parts; hopefully the manufacturer will email me back tomorrow) and do the first matwork workout from the Stott Pilates series. I need to learn not to use my neck and remember to engage my powerhouse all the time, but it was a good start.

Indecision..

(Quickly: Yes, Jali’s fine now. It took awhile, but she perked up Sunday sometime and finally kicked out the rest of the yarn that she ate last night. We’re all much happier now, though pr’bly her most of all because now she’s back to getting fed at the normal times again.)

So at the board meeting last week, I found out that there’s an open house and annual meeting December 6 and that at said open house and annual meeting, there will be a silent auction for which members of the board were expected to donate items. This is not an issue. Not only do I work at the University, which has an art department and a theatre department, I am also able to relatively painlessly whip up rather nice looking knitted bits given a couple weeks notice.

So off I go and decide that I really don’t want to try to do a drop stitch pattern in the vanilla worsted weight mohair, but that the Falling Leaves pattern from Knitty might be nice. And I start out and get through a couple patten repeats and it’s just.. ugh. The wisps, which are quite substantial and not anything like the wisps in the KSH I used for my Birch, looked matted rather than snuggly. I decide that it was likely because I was using US 7 needles. So I (carefully) frog it all out and start again with US 11s.

And while it’s looking much softer and snugglier, I’m not sure I like how.. well.. big it is. It’s not what I’d call delicate, and something about that just isn’t sitting with me. So, in an effort to get opinions before it gets too late to reasonably finish another project in time for the silent auction, here are some pictures of it now (as yet unblocked.. it will be blocked when it’s finished which will pr’bly not only draw the pattern out more, but also make it at least a little wider):

(Sorry for the holy huge pictures, batfans.. I can switch them to thumbnails if anyone’s having issues viewing the page properly..)
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This is a closer shot – it *looks* right in terms of the wispiness, but it’s so wide that I’m afraid that the pattern is too delicate. It’s not a scarf that I can imagine someone wearing as an accessory. It’s a scarf I can imagine someone wearing that is slightly prettier than your average scarf but will also keep you warm. In which case I’m afraid people won’t bid on it because, well, this is southern MN and people pr’bly *have* substantial and dressy scarves already. Or something.

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This one shows how far along I am. It’s going very quickly and I think I’m about a third of the way through considering that I want to make it long enough to wrap around the neck/face at least once and still have reasonably long tails.

So.. what do you think? Is it just.. not right? Or am I being overly critical and just need to tuck away my criticism and finish it..?