Tuesday, March 31, 2009

3.31 vertical but coughing

My cough just doesn't want to quit. Other than that I'm pretty much mobile again, which is good as I have a job interview tomorrow morning and K's suitcase has to be at the school tomorrow for inspection by 7:15. Laundry is happening, an angelfood cake is in the oven, and assistance with homework is happening on demand.
Missing two days of school for a field trip has led to massive amounts of homework ahead of time, trying to finish up everything due on Thursday, Friday and Monday, and undoubtedly will lead to massive (additional) amounts of homework trying to catch up on everything assigned on Thursday and Friday that she won't receive until Monday and Tuesday, along with everything assigned to everyone on Monday and Tuesday.
I'm not sure I would think it worth it, but everyone going on the trip does, and since they are the ones actually doing the homework, I suppose it must be.

It must be spring, based on the crocuses, the robins, the falcons, and the goldfinch. The March wind blowing snowflakes around yesterday, I could have done without.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

3.19 Down again...

There has been knitting occurring chez nous, but only sporadically. Recovering from my second round of bronchitis and antibiotics has left me massively behind everywhere and the blog is about ninth on the list, behind schoolwork, obligations with deadlines, catching up with my family, and a bit of housework.

Right after my next nap.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

3.11 pink green violet

pink green violet
Originally uploaded by zinlizzie
I've another violet trying to bloom. It's almost as though it's frozen in time. The blooms have looked like this for over a week now, just poised to open but not doing it.
This is one of my favorite African violets. The leaves, obviously are edged with white. The flowers are pink shading to white, with a green edging.
One of the most interesting things I read about African violets years ago is that they are very unstable genetically. There are only a few original types of plants and all the variations in color and structure have been bred into them over time. Stressing an individual plant can cause the "fancy" part of its genes to break down.
One time the thermostat in my office broke down over a long weekend and the temp was over 120 F in the office when we came in on Monday. Since African violets prefer a nice steady 75-80 F, this didn't do my collection any good. I lost about half of them right away. The others eventually recovered, but one of the fanciest was very peculiar after that. It had originally been very similar to this plant - white ruffled edging on the leaves, pale blue rather than pink blooms, but very ruffled. When the plant finally recovered enough to put out new leaves, there was a strong line of demarcation down the center of the crown (new leaves on an African violet grow out from the crown, where you see the smallest leaves in the photo). On one side of the line, the leaves were ruffled but not as much as originally, and the white disappeared altogether. On the other side of the line, the leaves were completely smooth, also without white. Blooms on the ruffled side of the crown were still ruffled, but were darker than originally. Blooms on the unruffled side were the simplest form of dark purple violet bloom.
I wish I had a picture of that plant. It looked almost as though someone had cut two plants in half and glued them together.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

3.10 green hoodie

This project is turning into one of those Projects from Hell. I told you all the story of trying to order the yarn. Well, I have all the yarn. What I don't have is gauge.

Plan A: The project started out to be Vivian, from the Twist Collective. A lovely hoodie that I may try again, but not in a bulky yarn. Worsted, perhaps.

I knew I was in trouble when I checked the ballband recommendation - a size 10.5 needle is to give me 13.5 stitches per 4 inches. Just peachy, except that the gauge claimed by the pattern is 17 stitches per 4 inches on a size 8 needle. Unfortunately, since I tend to be a loose knitter, I need to go down to a size 4 needle to make gauge, and I don't think so.

Plan B: A nice plain hoodie, same yarn. Gauge called for here is 13 stitches per four inches on a size 10.5 needle. Much more doable... almost.

So far I have achieved the following:

  1. 14.5 stitches per four inches on a bamboo size 8. Fabric adjudged too stiff.
  2. 14 stitches per four inches on an Addi size 8. Fabric adjudged better but still a bit stiff.
  3. 11 stiches per four inches on an Addi size 9. Fabric adjudged flimsy.
  4. Despite repeated checking, I don't appear to have a bamboo size 9 to try.

I'm still debating with myself about buying a bamboo size 9 - I don't often knit with size 8s and 9s, despite the fact that I do own the preceding list of needles.* If going from bamboo to Addi at size 8 gains me .5 stitches per four inches, will doing the same at size 9 get me from 11 to 13, or at least 12? Logic would say probably not.

So - do I spring for another needle that may or may not help, or just go with the Addi size 8 and make the adjustments which I have already calculated? Does anyone know if Addi's come in size 8.5?

Actually, I've taken the only sensible way out: I cast on for a completely different project, for which gauge matters not a whit.

*Side note: I have an appalling number of large sizes - why on earth do I own sizes 13, 15 and 17 circular bamboo needles? When did I buy them and what was I going to do with them?

Monday, March 09, 2009

3.9 red bobbin

Here is a better picture of the dark red I'm spinning. Cushings black cherry on a heathery brown from DHF.

Once upon a time, when I was working on the Beginner Triangle, I spun up about a third of the pound. That time I used it as a singles in the two-ply with a variegated BFL. This time, I'm doing a three-ply of the cherry by itself, and it is intended as the accent yarn to accompany the red leaf yarn.

We'll see how it comes out - I do like the two sets of colors next to each other.

PS It is amazing what we can forget when we want to. I was looking for the triangle post to link to it, and I had completely forgotten the story about the neighbor suggesting that the triangle shawl was worthy of being put in the Gift Exchange. It's also amazing the things we can find amusing at the distance of a couple of years, when they were only appalling at the time.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

3.8 turkeys again

The whole flock came wandering through the yard again. I couldn't get a shot with all of them in it without alarming them to some extent, so all twelve of them are facing the other way. They still wouldn't hustle and lose their dignity, but they were on their way somewhere else.
This flock seems to be all toms, and pretty much of a size. In good condition too! I don't think it's turkey hunting season though... I haven't noticed any hens around although that doesn't stop the boys from fanning every now and then. Either just keeping in practice, or else putting off possible rivals, even if they are hanging out together for the winter.

All of the snow is gone and the woods are pretty much bare. The stream in the gully is pretty loud at the moment. We've not yet seen any coyotes go through recently, although there has been a bit of detritus from meals visible. So, what do wild turkeys eat in the winter when the snow covers pretty much everything and the marshy areas are frozen over?

Friday, March 06, 2009

3.6 turkeys

The weather has turned sharply warmer in the past few days. All of the snow is gone except for a few pitiful piles of dirty ice crystals, shrinking by half each day.
This morning we had some visitors again; the first time we've seen a flock since late last fall. They meandered through the back yard, nibbling at the exposed, and fairly dry, grass. They were too much on their dignity to flee when they saw us watching, but they did find occasion to change direction and mosey on out of the yard at a somewhat quicker pace.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

3.4 Books

And She Knits, Too posted a book meme. Apparently The Big Read says that, on average, adults have only read six out of the following list. My total is 48, but I'm not sure that it will ever be more than that due to lack of interest in the ones I haven't. On the other hand, I have read, and certainly will continue to read, a few other things.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - Over and over...
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien – Over and over...
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - Over and over...
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling – Yes
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - Yes
6 The Bible –Yes
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - I've tried...
8 1984 - George Orwell - Yes
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman - I've tried...
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens - Yes
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott - Yes
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy – No
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller – No
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – Yes - the plays, not the poetry, and not all of the histories.
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier - Yes
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien - Yes
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks - No
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger - Yes
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger - Yes
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot- Not yet
t21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell - Unfortunately
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - Unfortunately
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens-Not yet
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - Not yet
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - Yes
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh - No
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky - No
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - No
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame - No
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy - Not yet
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens - No
33 The Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis - Yes
34 Emma - Jane Austen - Yes
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen - Yes
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - Yes - we mentioned the entire Chronicles earlier, why the repeat?
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - No
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres- No
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - No
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne – Yes
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell -Yes
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - Unfortunately
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - No
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving - No
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins - Yes
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - Yes, and pretty much everything else as well
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy - No
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood - Yes
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding - No
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan - No
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel - Yes
52 Dune - Frank Herbert- Yes
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons - No
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen - Yes
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth - No
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon - No
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - Yes
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley - No
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon - No
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Yes
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck – Yes
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov - No
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt - No
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold – No
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas - Over and over...
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac - No
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy - No
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding - No
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie - No
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville - No
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens - Yes
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker - Yes
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - Yes
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson - Yes
75 Ulysses - James Joyce - No, and don't intend to
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath - No
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome - No
78 Germinal - Emile Zola - No
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray - No
80 Possession - AS Byatt- No
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - Over and over...
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell - No
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker -No
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro - No
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert - No
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry - No
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White - Yes
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom - Yes
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Yes
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton – No
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad -No
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery – Yes
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks - No
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams - Yes
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole - Yes
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute - No
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas - I've tried, repeatedly. I get to the same spot and put it down...
98 Hamlet – Shakespeare – Yes - wouldn't this fall into the complete works listed above?
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl - Yes
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo - No

On the whole I think they could have improved the list by condensing a few things (why so many individual books by Dickens or Austen?; why Middlemarch and not Silas Marner? why the DaVinci Code and not half a dozen other bestselling nothings?) why not say "anything by..." and add a few more authors to the list?