Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer Flies

It is a well-known fact that residents of the Pacific Northwest are prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression induced by low light levels and constant rainfall.  Perhaps less well-known is the fact that teachers in the Pacific Northwest get their version of this a few months early, and it has nothing to do with low light levels and everything to do with the onslaught of the school year.

Summer Flies is my 8th in the 12-shawls-in-2012 challenge.  It's a free pattern, I knit it in Dream in Color Smooshy in the shade "Into the Mystic."  I did somewhat intend it as a melancholy metaphor for my anticipated state of mind upon finishing it.  This state of mind has in fact come to pass as the start of school is imminent and my physical, mental and emotional fortitude for dealing with it is nowhere to be found.  I posed it with the hydrangea bush in the front yard because the yarn is the exact shade of hydrangeas in bloom, but even here I noticed that most of the flowers have faded.  Only two on the whole bush had their original color still.  One was blue, and one was purple.
Here's the purple one.  The yarn has elements of both, just like the bush, which is kind of neat. 

But most of the flowers are this yellowish-green now; not a bad color by any means, but not what you expect from a hydrangea in the summer.  I keep wondering where the summer has gone.  Or even, What Summer?  There were two days when it got well into the 90's, and that's it.  Mostly it's been in the 70's and this morning, it was definitely chilly.

Yesterday was Tertia's back-to-school open house, Steve and Peter are due to get back from their long road trip any minute now, and next week will be the start of teacher training for Cedar Tree.  Please, someone, shoot me now  find a ringer who can do all the back-to-school stuff for me while I go looking for summer?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WIP Wednesday - Secundus Intervention

While the boys were away dropping Daniel off at college, I decided to stage an intervention.  Secundus' room was a disaster area. This is all the stuff I raked out from under his bed.  I estimate at least 2 years of debris.  I pulled the bed out and thoroughly vacuumed underneath, combing the carpet first for candy wrappers and thumbtacks.
He has been "doing his own laundry" for a few years now, but for him that means piling stuff on the floor of his closet (his dresser was almost empty).  I assume anything on the floor is dirty unless told otherwise, so I just dumped it all into a couple of loads to make sure.  Oh, and when he talks me into buying new shoes, he never throws away the shoeboxes; there were at least 7 shoeboxes in his closet.  There were also 3 ripped up backpacks, still stuffed with notebooks and papers from school.  I recycled most of his papers.  Our recycling bin is too full for the rest this week -- seriously, more paper weight than I could carry in two loads!
The surprise element, and the spur for all of this, is the new mattress he's getting on his bed when he gets back Friday.  For 13 years the boys have both slept on pretty low-quality bunk-bed mattresses, even after we separated the bunks and they started not liking being stuck with the springs.  So I went to Sleep Country USA Monday and ordered an upgrade.  If Daniel is reading this he has a reason to look forward to coming home for Christmas, too!  But Secundus is really hard on the furniture.  I mean, really hard!  His bunky board had only 2 intact slats out of seven... he had broken all the others.  And the mattresses were being delivered just a few hours after I bought them, so I didn't have time or a large enough car to go out and buy a plywood sheet cut to the right size for a bedboard - I still want to do this, but it will have to wait.  So I had to call up my limited carpentry skills, fetch the miter box, cut (and then recut) 5 lengths of scrap 1x2's or 1x3's.  I think it will do.  It's certainly better than before.  I poked my right thumb with a staple and hit my left thumb with the hammer in the process.  I would like someone else to be the handy one for awhile, please!
But look at that!  It still has that new mattress smell!  Of course, I'm going to have to convince Secundus not to use his pocketknife on it anymore.  Do you think he'll forgive me for cleaning his room?
I sorted his socks after the laundry was done.  Here are 28 pairs, which would be enough with what he has with him on his Great American Road Trip to wear for an entire month without doing laundry.  And I'm not counting the shoebox full of orphan socks that still need matches.
Since most of you are here for the quilts, I thought I'd take some closeups of the quilt on his bed.  I made it 8 years ago and it's called "Cars and Trucks and Things that Go Go Go" or something like that.  At the top is a spaceship...
The Man in the Yellow Hat is flying a helicopter to rescue Curious George...
Bob the Tomato is driving the school bus with Goldilocks and the Three Bears...
If you flip open the door you can see Larry the Cucumber...
I put our green van and Uncle Andy's pickup on there...
The Amazing Spider-man is perched on the ambulance to remind Secundus of the "Spider-man on the swingset" incident which took him to the ER for one of his many trips.
At the bottom a peaceful sailboat on a pond next to Pooh and Tigger playing...
A train runs across some rails, with Flash or Dash or some other superhero going faster than a locomotive.  That's a fire truck partially obscured above it.

I know this is an 8-year-old quilt, but I wanted to share it because it hasn't been shared before, and I sure haven't done any other quilting this past week!  Most of the designs came from either Block Magic/ Block Magic Too, or Tender Loving Covers.  He hasn't destroyed it, so maybe that means Secundus likes it a little bit too.
For the yarn-along, I am soaking Summer Flies prior to blocking it, and beside it is the World magazine from back in February that I have been working on trying to finish all week long.  Yes, it's been that kind of a week.  And school starts next week... yikes!

Well, it's been fun but I need to go back upstairs and finish cleaning.  It's been three full days and I'd love to get it all done before the guys get home.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Political Tuesdays - "Likeability"

                                                     I do not like thee, Dr. Paul,
                                                    Though fiscally you're on the ball,
                                                    Your other views are off the wall --
                                                    I do not like thee, Dr. Paul.

With that take-off on Martial and Tom Brown, I'll  lead off another Political Tuesday on the "likebility" gap.  Lots of people, including some good friends, like Ron Paul politically.  I don't.  I think he's a crank and his brand of isolationist libertarianism is a short hop away from the extreme Left.  I wouldn't vote for him unless he was the Republian nominee, and even then, I'd be researching third party possibilities.  Fortunately I don't have to.  He's had more than his fair share of attention and accomplished whatever it was he set out to do, and if I don't hear too much more from his disappointed followers about how the Republicans cheated him out of the nomination, I'll let that be my last word on the mad doctor.  May he retire and ride his bicycle in peace and health.

The word is out that Mitt Romney has a "likeability" problem.  His campaign is out to try to collect 5 million "likes" on Facebook to correct that.  Compared to President Obama, who comes off to me as a holier-than-thou scold, I have a hard time understanding this.  In the words of the prince from Enchanted, "What's not to like?"  Handsome, articulate, devoted husband, father and grandfather; he works hard and more importantly, smart; he possesses the basic fiscal competence that Obama lacks and has positioned himself to make the reforms our economy desperately needs.  No, he wasn't my first choice among the primary candidates -- that was Santorum (and even Santorum was not my "ideal" candidate... I don't know if such a creature exists).  But he was chosen as the nominee of the Republican Party in a legitimate process and received a clear majority of delegates.  If that's not exciting enough for the news media to consider him "likeable", well then, I guess they felt they needed to stir up some controversy.  And that's what they've been doing for the last few weeks, fueled by the avid help of Democratic operatives.  At the end of the day, we know that Romney manages money very well, and the Obama machine is sounding more desperate with every negative campaign.

For those readers who are still struggling with the issue of whether a Christian can vote for a Mormon, I'd defer to this excellent article.

On Obama's "likeability":  I don't "like" President Obama's policies and hope he is resoundingly defeated this November... but he seems like a "nice" enough human being that I wouldn't mind him moving into the neighborhood afterwards -- there are a few good houses for sale down the street -- and I think he'd make a good neighbor. He conducts himself with courtesy most of the time, and if he were separated from his political minders he might actually be able to find himself and discover a line of work he is good at.  I don't think that would be financial planning, and his tactics of "community organizing" are a little too thug-like for my tastes, but surely there must be something he's capable of doing well other than politics?
Before I leave off, a commenter named Anonymous left a comment on last week's political Tuesday post: "When was Bill Clinton charged with rape?"  Anonymous must be younger than I am, or maybe missed the coverage back in 1998.  NBC and the Wall Street Journal were the primary news outlets that covered the case of Juanita Broaddrick, who claimed she was raped by Bill Clinton 20 years previously.  She kept her silence, reportedly at least in part because of an intimidation campaign, and the statute of limitations ran out before the allegations were made public.  Most Clinton supporters tried to dismiss the allegations as just one more "bimbo eruption" and refused to give her story much attention.  I guess that raises the question of whether Democrats believe in "legitimate rape."  George Will, a commentator I respect greatly, considered the accusations credible and wrote, "Clinton is not the worst president the republic has had, but he is the worst person ever to have been president."  Going back to the "likeability" question, Clinton's continuing popularity in the Democratic party has always mystified me because of this.  I can't come up with anything to "like" about Clinton that is not colored by his abysmal moral failures.  But in the clear light of history, it is obvious that his politics were not as bad as they might have been.  They were not as bad as Obama's.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Manic Monday

Daniel's first day of college classes was today.  Here's the cell phone picture Steve took on move-in day... wasn't that considerate of him?  He knows I like pictures of quilts for my blog.  Look how neatly the new bed is made with the new twin-extra-long sheets!  Shirt-Stripe Boxes is now in Pennsylvania.  Just a little over a week ago it was on his own bunk bed.

Daniel is loving college by all accounts, and Steve and Secundus are on their long way back home.  They drove from Grove City, PA to Hillsdale, MI today, and then on to Davenport, IA.  That's a lot of driving... Secundus is logging some serious hours.

The girls and I were at Family Camp in Wamic, OR last week.  We're all pretty much exhausted. 
Tertia and her best camp buddy, before and after the big splash.  They did this for hours.  I finished a shawl and started another one.  It was a good Family Camp; wish the boys could have come too.

Today was a manic day... laundry, and then some special shopping, then cleaning before the delivery of the special shopping items, more laundry, cajoling the girls to do their chores, killing fleas (I treated the cats more than a week ago, but the stragglers are die-hards).  I tried a new recipe for macaroni and cheese today, Quarta picked a few blackberries to go on our ice cream for dessert, we watched a bit of an older Pride and Prejudice miniseries on Netflix, we assembled a tabletop soccer/foosball game the boys never put together from at least two Christmases ago, I went out to Knit Night at Starbucks for about 15 minutes, and I still have to sort laundry.  I actually did more laundry today than usual because my extra cleaning was part of an intervention I'm staging in Secundus' room.  Pictures to follow.  Honestly, that boy needs some serious organizational help.  But the only way I'll ever be able to get in his room is when he's halfway across the country.

I can't believe I need to get the back-to-school planning done for the rest of us.  Where has the summer gone?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Political Tuesday... Oh, Why Not?

If you're going to have a blog and occasionally talk about politics instead of needlework or book reviews or family events, I think Tuesday is probably the day to do it.  And I want to talk about politics, fraught with peril as it may be.  It's the week before the nominating convention in a red-hot political cycle, and the feeding frenzy is on.  So if you don't want to read my ramblings on politics but like the knitting and quilting and other stuff, simple...  Just skip Tuesdays from now until Election Day, or a little after.  Or you can read, but pretty please don't leave any anonymous nastygram comments.  Not that I can't respond to nastygram comments with wit and a snappy prose style... but the risk for hurt feelings is so high, I feel obliged to warn all Democrats particularly.  I'd rather have you as a friend than a sparring partner.


Are they gone?

I understand a Missouri congressman, whom I'd never heard of until this week, is in some hot water.  Todd Akin, challenging Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill (whom I have heard of, but barely) for her Senate seat, fumbled The Rape Question.  You know, The Rape Question?  The one that pro-abortion activists always ask pro-life politicians, hoping that they'll respond in a manner that can be spun as insensitive?  I fumbled this question myself, once, in college, when a tall blond woman (who, I suspect now, was attempting to justify one or two abortions of her own) asked me with venom in her voice, "What if you were raped?  What if you were raped by a black man and got pregnant?!"  I fumbled it by not responding, quickly and decisively, to the hideous racism underlying it: "Are you saying a black rapist is worse than a white rapist?"  For this, I should probably apologize now to all black rapists.  But really, The Rape Question, much like abortion itself, is a conversation ender.  It's not meant to promote reasoned dialogue.  It's meant to be impossible to answer, and the best you can hope is to turn it and achieve some kind of a draw in this weird chess game that is political theater.  Make no mistake: the person who asks The Rape Question is not your friend, and is not neutral on the larger abortion issue.  In a sense, this question and the reaction to it epitomizes all that is wrong in American politics.

So Akin fumbles The Rape Question, and the next thing we know, it's the mushroom cloud obscuring the real electoral issues, with calls for his resignation coming louder from his own party than the Democrats.  Really?  His mistake, I believe, was in treating The Rape Question as a "legitimate rape question", one begging for a thoughtful answer.  (His wasn't it in any case.)  It's the kind of thing a gentleman from the Midwest would do.  On one hand, I can see the case that Ann Coulter makes, that he has become a liability in an election with enormous stakes, and he should take one for the team.  But as another child of the Midwest, this makes me furious, and I hope Akin wins Missouri single-handedly just to stick it to the thought police on both sides.  Send the guy to pro-life boot camp to practice the answer he should have given... but they're acting like he's a rapist himself, and that's plain ridiculous.  It was a gaffe, and a gaffe is a gaffe.  Joe Biden makes one every 10 minutes and he's still in the second-highest office in the land.  Bill Clinton actually was a rapist and he was re-elected.  The news media who tolerate this kind of double standard have created a political environment where it would be impossible to elect Abraham Lincoln if he were running.  They should be ashamed of themselves, but even more, the people should make them irrelevant.


I'm old enough to remember the catchphrase "this is the most important election of our lifetime" going back every four years to the 1992 election cycle. It was never completely true... every election is important, but every election is a foregone conclusion determined in large part by the prevailing cultural conditions. We get the leadership that the majority of the voters want. And we get the leadership we deserve, especially if we aren't willing to do the hard work to find out what the wise choices are.  And yes, there are potentially catastrophic consequences to choosing unwisely, but it's impossible to predict how things will go exactly.  Kind of like life in general.

I'm more comfortable with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee than I was back in January, or on Super Tuesday in March.  He's grown on me, especially since he picked Paul Ryan as his running mate.  Romney himself is not thrilling, but he's competent.  The country needs competence right now.  It needs a grownup in the Oval Office.  So although I'd love to see another Reagan emerge from the cultural mist, I'll be more than happy with a Romney who has sound fiscal instincts and is advised by Paul Ryan.  Even Reagan was not the Reagan of popular myth and revered memory until after he had left office.  I don't ask to fall in love with my political representatives.  It's not a reality TV show like "the Bachelorette."  I do ask that my political representatives are not so in love with themselves that they forget their calling to serve the people. 

Mark Steyn has a great article this week in National Review Online.  Please read it and, if you've ever heard him speak, imagine his voice reading it aloud; it adds greatly to the experience.  I am utterly envious of his wit... there are some phrases I might have come up with on my own after a great deal of thought, but he makes it look effortless, particularly in the 7th paragraph.  "The apotheosis of narcissistic leftist myopia."  That is a phrase for the ages.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Grove City Bound

Grove City College's farthest traveling freshmen left yesterday, headed back East for adventure and education.
There was a bit of a teary-eyed sendoff from 1st OPC.
The car was pretty full, even before 4 guys piled in.  Steve sends me little pings to Google Maps at every stop, so I can track them as they cross the country.
The girls and I are surviving in a very quiet house.  Quarta found it therapeutic to make a zucchini-lantern out of the half of the giant zucchini we had left from the last veggie stir-fry.  This is the girl side... see the hair ribbon?
This is the silly-face boy side... he's sticking out his tongue.  There has been a little housecleaning today and a tiny bit of school planning.  I'm afraid there will have to be more soon.  But nothing new in sewing or knitting this last week, other than all the buttons I sewed on shirts and pants a few days ago.  And I let the flea treatment for the cats go too long... finally took care of that last week but now the little hoppers are jumping ship and more annoying than when they stayed on the felines.  Lots of vacuuming today, and for the next few days too.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Randomday in Blue, with Boxes

Wah. Daniel is leaving for Grove City College tomorrow.  I am a basket case.
He's taking the Shirt Stripe Boxes quilt with him.  It will look very handsome on his dorm bed.
It's too bulky, but he'd like to take the blue jean rag quilt I made years back from all the Chapman men's worn out jeans and other pants.
Another quilt left home will be Noah's Ark, which I made when he was a little boy.  He's not little anymore.  The animals (two by two!) will have to guard his bunk bed until Christmas break.
I was just noticing how all the quilts I've made for him over the years have been predominantly blue, and from squares.
For the custom-designed valance I launched out into pinwheels.  Pinwheels are always cheery.  I doubt they'll help much when I wander into his empty room, though.
And the battered map of Narnia will stay behind as well.
The car is packed with the two roommates' belongings and three more bags will have to fit in before they roll out tomorrow.
It might work.  It's a long way to Pennsylvania.  Daniel is taking some homemade granola and blueberry jam.  I have had a Skype lesson.  We'll have to see.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday - Summer Flies edition

It's that depressing time of the summer, when it's finally warmed up and stopped raining and it's a little TOO hot, when people start asking me, "So, when do you go back to school?" and when I've finished the fun stuff of the summer (Tour de Fleece, Ravelympics) and am left with a very messy house and lots of neglected chores.  And school starts too soon... but I'm not thinking about that!  Daniel and Steve and Secundus will be leaving for the great all-guy road-trip to take him off to Grove City College in 4 days, and he's not packed yet.  Right now he's hanging out with his future roommate and fellow road-tripper, and some of his classmates from Cedar Tree, and they are playing board games in the dining room and preparing to consume large quantities of flank steak stir-fry, which I also haven't prepared yet.  I have been sidetracked today by taking Tertia and Quarta to CYT camp, going grocery shopping (this was before I knew that 6 extra teenage boys would be added to the household temporarily), and by the fact that Facebook decided to change me over to the Timeline today.  So I decided if I had to be dragged into the second decade of the 21st century I'd at least try to upload a few relevant pictures to my timeline... and you know how it goes.
So, with the Fair and the Ravelympics behind me, I'm knitting at a more sedate pace once again.  This is Summer Flies, a lovely free pattern, in Dream in Color Smooshy in the colorway known as "Into the Mystic," which I think is the same exact shade as my hydrangeas.  I'll be linking up to Ginny's yarn-along.  Does anyone else see the humorous irony in knitting a lacy pastel shawl while reading a testosterone-driven thriller like Tom Clancy's Locked On?  I don't know, when it comes down to it, I think I may be more of a Tom Clancy thriller girl than a lace shawl girl.  It's been too long since I read one of his books.  This one was published just last year and is uncannily true to the geo-political situation while still having the same fictional characters I first started reading about 15 years ago or more.
The only sewing I've done in the past week was yesterday, when I fired up the machine to mend Steve's jeans (at the knee) and Tertia's stretch jeans (at the fake pocket).  I used the method I outlined in my tutorial on darning jeans, if you're interested.  I usually link to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, but this is kind of boring and there was NO other sewing to report.  I need to get back to some quilting now.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fair Report; Monday Designs and Stash Report

I'm still basking in the glow of finishing my Ravellenic Games project yesterday; I also picked up our Fair exhibits this morning.  The Clark County Fair is over and everyone needs a few days to recover from that let-down feeling.  So fun to read all the comments, and we'll definitely enter things again... there's also a small check for winning ribbons, which is nice.  Quarta's pink applique "tea time" quilt got a blue ribbon and was much raved over by the Fair ladies.  "A keepsake item, enjoy!"  My Jack's Chain, Junior quilt only got a red ribbon: "Some areas pucker with quilting.  Kind of small for a baby."  Framed In also a red ribbon: "good idea - no points to really match. Binding needs help, many uneven places.  Miter corners a little tight."  Hmm, ya think that might be because I used many different weight scraps?  But the ladies in the "clothing" department were more generous.  My handspun Targhee yarn got a red ribbon, but then later also collected a Superintendent's Choice purple/gold ribbon. "Beautiful colors - watch for over spinning in spots."  Lady MacBeth garnered a blue ribbon and was apparently considered for Judge's Choice: "What a gorgeous piece of art!!!" And I loved the judges' comments on Nautilina, which seemed to inspire people to think about going on vacation: "Wonderful. How perfect with any color while walking the beach after a nice dinner in Mexico (I'm going in March)."  Sorry, nameless judge, but you can't borrow it!
On the design floor was this quilt from Steve's mom.  Isn't it charming?  I pinned it for her yesterday.  I love the flower prints and the different cream backgrounds.  She says people were pleased to see her again tying quilts in the activity room the last time she went.  I guess she took some time off after Steve's dad passed away.

My own design wall hasn't changed any since last week; Feathered Star still waiting for me.

Stash Report:

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 53.5 yards
Added this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 28 yards
Net used for 2012: 25.5 yards

Yarn used this week: 540 yards to finish Rhinebeck (total yardage for sweater 1444)
Yarn used year to date: 5850 yards
Yarn added this week: 0 yards
Yarn added year to date: 3503 yards (all handspun, not purchased)
Net used for 2012: 2347 yards

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sweater Triathlon - finish line!

It was a squeaker... but it's done, just in time for closing ceremonies if I had watched them live.  Which I didn't.  I have several hours of Olympics still tivo'd to watch and really, no time to do it in.
See, it really is done.  Except for the buttons, the reinforcing tape on the button band, and washing and blocking.  I love it.  Orange is the best color ever.  It's not my size, or I'd be tempted to keep it even though I own its twin.  Because you can never have enough orange.  It's a bit heavy to wear in August though.  I'll calculate tomorrow exactly how much yarn it used.  I spent a total of about 13 days knitting it, with not much else getting done on those days other than necessary stuff like cooking 3 meals a day and blogging.

Rhinebeck goes Ravellenic on Ravelry.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Randomday - Only the Collar Left

That's right, friends, only the collar is left of my orange Rhinebeck.  And the collar is negligible.  I can knit that up tonight and make the photo finish line before closing ceremonies.  No pictures because, well, I've been knitting all day!

I started this morning at 6:00 (9:00 EST), with some nice energetic knitting to the accompaniment of the political coverage.  I knit faster when the promise of a solid Republican victory is in the air.  And isn't it nice that Paul Ryan is considered young by all the commentators?  He's just two years younger than me, so that makes me... not old.  I finished the second sleeve midmorning, about the time I finished watching the Olympic coverage from last night.  I took a break midway through the buttonband to go pick as many plums as I could from our tree. 

There was also a break to go pick up the car from the shop in the early afternoon, and a trip to the library in mid-afternoon.  And then I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie and a blueberry-plum pie.  I also took a break for dinner and two breaks to do my two Latinstudy assignments (Caesar and Bede... Bede is in one of those dreadful papal letters, from Honorius.  The popes would have done so much better if they had stuck to the simple Latin of the Vulgate from which they all-too-seldom quote, and just dropped the pretentious efforts to impress the yokels with their erudition).

Daniel is working his way through Deep Space Nine, which he considers the quintessential Star Trek.  I finished the buttonhole band and cast on the collar through two key episodes dealing with the beginning of the Dominion war.  It's all clear sailing from here.  Yay!  I have fulfilled the Olympic code: Knit Faster, Aim Higher, Compete Stronger, and Stay Up Later watching television until you finish your sweater!  Unfortunately I have not finished my ironing, or made plum jam, or helped Daniel pack for college, or cleaned the house.  But there may be time for those things next week.

More of the random: at the Fair last week Steve and I saw a baby Barbary Lion, a species which is extinct in the wild.  It was asleep the first time we went by, but then awake right before we left the fair, and frisky.  I've never seen anything more adorable than a frisky kitten-lion trying to gnaw the head off its stuffed penguin toy.  And it was posing in people's laps, for photographs!

Recently I had an occasion where I contemplated the changes that twelve years of immersion in ancient language have made in my brain.  I was trying to explain the difference between a mystery gourd, which I think is a pumpkin, growing in our compost pile, and the watermelon which Daniel was hoping it was.  "Pumpkins have different leaves than ...." and there I paused.  Because I had to be sure the correct plural was "watermelons" and not "watermela."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

In it to Win it

Forget all that "It's just an honor to be here" nonsense.  I want that Ravellenic medal!  I've worked hard and overcome a lot of setbacks, and I'm determined.  So.  After watching the Ravellenic Games live while furiously knitting on the right sleeve of Rhinebeck, I've come to some realizations about myself.  1. I'm stubborn.  2. I'm more competitive when I set myself a personal challenge than you'd think (see #1).  3. I take pride in my work and I want to see others appreciate it. 4. I honor the efforts of all participants in these games, but if baby sweaters, hexipuffs and water-bottle cozies can medal, I'm going to make darn sure my adult size sweater, knit with at least 1400 yards of my own handspun, is going to get a medal.  I will just have to be strategic.

So, like Aly Raisman making the shrewd call to drop a certain element from her floor program in the team final, I'm going to change the terms on which I will claim a medal, if necessary, after a last-minute evaluation.  From the beginning I knew that I would consider the sweater "done" even without buttons sewn on or blocking.  Now, I'm going to say that as long as I finish both sleeves, I will claim victory.  Buttonbands and collar, while they will certainly be added to the sweater before it finds its recipient this fall, are not strictly necessary elements of an adult garment.  I can claim victory without them, and I will, if necessary.  I'll be finished with the first sleeve in a few hours, and starting on the second sometime this evening.  I can DO this!  Anybody want to cook dinner for me?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yarn-along Wednesday - Olympic Hopes

For every Olympic athlete who seizes the limelight with inspiring stories of pre-dawn practices and impossible comebacks, there are several who don't ever get a medal.  And that's okay.  You can tell the story of a person's character by how they react to -- not disaster, but a less than perfect performance.  I'm so proud of the ones who say "I'm just so happy to be here" instead of crying when they get a silver or pouting when they get a bronze (Russian gymnasts, I'm looking at you!)  Even when the announcer intones, "his Olympics are over" ... and they are, as far as NBC is concerned.  But I have to say those are the stories I enjoy the most.  I'm just sorry I don't have enough time in my life to watch more than the pre-packaged primetime coverage, taped for the next morning.
Here's where I stand on my Ravelympic Rhinebeck.  I lost almost two entire days of knitting, Saturday when I went blueberry picking, and Monday when I had a migraine.  But yesterday was quite productive.  Both right and left front yoke were completed yesterday, and I picked up stitches for the right sleeve.  Still, I'm seriously doubting that I'll be able to finish the whole thing by closing ceremonies.  That's basically three days for two sleeves and a day and a half for the collar and buttonbands.  I've never knit sleeves that fast.  But it's an honor just to be here.

I'm reading the latest #1 Ladies' Detective Agency novel - The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection.  I'm not reading it very fast because I keep trying to finish Olympic knitting, but it's just as delightful as all the others.  I'm linking up to Ginny's yarn-along today.
Blueberries have been a bit of a distraction this week also; first they had to be cleaned and picked over, then they had to be processed.  There have been many gallons -- 8? -- frozen for future use, and with the ones in the container I've made jam and syrup.  I'm trying to get to another batch of jam and a much-requested blueberry pie.  And then, just when we were preparing to drive away from church Sunday, friends come running up and saying, "Wait!  You can't go home without a zucchini!  Take two!"  They measure 11" and 12".  I like zucchini, but these are almost the size of kayaks.  I'll need to get creative to use them before people give me more! 

Steve and I are going on a date to the fair this evening; I'll be able to see the knitting and quilts without kids pulling several different directions, so it'll be fun.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Feathered Star: Evaluation

August UFO dating from 1999 - Feathered Star.  I was pregnant with Tertia when my quilt group in Denver, Hearts and Hands, began this project.  In theory, we would piece the central medallion and then challenge ourselves to add multiple borders to make it a showstopping quilt.  I spent a fair amount of money, for me and at that time, on beautiful fabrics in "my" colors for what I thought would be a wall quilt that could be the centerpiece of my living room.  "These fabrics would be stunning with lots of elaborate applique!" was one of the comments I received. And it's true, they would.  But they probably aren't going to be.

But before I could get to the applique, I had to do the piecing.  And whether it was the morning sickness, or the disruption from moving -- twice -- or just my own lack of piecing skills, I've never been happy with the medallion.  The points don't really match, it's not precisely 24" square, and I put it away, thinking maybe I'd piece another feathered star sometime, or maybe 3 more for a bed-sized quilt.  Now, I'm no longer in my applique phase.  I still love the fabrics, but I'm not willing to spend that much time with them, especially when the central medallion is less than perfect.  So, it is what it is.  I'll come up with 3 or 4 borders to add to it and aim for a table topper or wall quilt that I can enjoy now rather than in 13 more years.  I think it would be great for Christmas, but those are my favorite colors any time of year.  And it would still look good in my living room!

That was supposed to be my Design Wall Monday post... but I ended up having a horrible migraine/ sick headache yesterday and didn't get anything done.  Well, I made blueberry jam and went clothes shopping with Daniel.  But no blogging, and no knitting.  I'm trying to recuperate today.  I'm finished with the back and right front of my orange Ravelympics sweater and hope to do a lot of knitting this afternoon and evening and maybe finish the left front.  I'm still running into crunch time to finish it up before closing ceremony August 12.  With a lot of couch potato knitting time, I still could make it.

Stash Report:

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 53.5 yards
Added this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 28 yards
Net used for 2012: 25.5 yards

Yarn used this week: 904 yards so far on Rhinebeck (up through skein 225)
Yarn used year to date: 5310 yards
Yarn added this week: 0 yards
Yarn added year to date: 3503 yards (all handspun, not purchased)
Net used for 2012: 1807 yards

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Randomday in Blue

Blueberry picking today in Woodland.  We got lots!  Now to get them into the freezer.  There will have to be a break from the orange knitting, I guess.  Cleaning and freezing and maybe making jam and syrup.  Lots of blueberry pancakes in the future!  I hope we can keep them cool until we have time to process them all.  Typing this at 11:30... we have 5 gallons in the freezer so far and about that much still to do another day.  This is one of those times I'd like to have an extra fridge.

Random Olympic observations before I crash:

No matter how many times the NBC announcer says it, "three-peat" is not a word.

I thought women's gymnastics was the only sport that included eyeshadow and sparklies in the hair.  I think that's still true... but the women sprinters look very nice in lipstick and earrings.  But don't get me started on beach volleyball.  Let's just say I think it was poetic justice when they had to cover up because of the chilly British climate.

I suppose we should all be glad that China is now focusing its collectivist, machine-like energy on trying to rake in as many athletic honors as possible rather than mowing down innocent citizens with tanks.  They can have the trampoline and the synchronized diving and my personal favorite sport, table tennis.  But throwing a badminton match?  When most people didn't even know badminton was an Olympic sport?  I'd say that denigrates the true meaning of the Olympics far more than any knitter could ever do.  All Chinese badminton athletes should be immediately disqualified from competition in this and future world-class badminton events for the next 20 years.  It's just unconscionable.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Division Day

I've made lots of progress knitting over the last few days: Wednesday I spent 2 hours in the Vancouver DMV and Thursday it was about 2 hours altogether with Daniel driving to the Kelso DMV, and waiting for him to take his drive test and get his license (whoo hoo!) and driving back.  The Kelso DMV is totally the way to go.  Only about 5 minutes wait time from the time you take your number.  And Daniel is a licensed driver now!

Daniel drove the girls and me to the fair this morning... we got in with our free admission tickets for the pancake breakfast, but we'd already eaten at home.  We parked way out in the far G section and were already tired after looking at the animal exhibit (baby lion who slept in people's arms, a wallaby that hopped obligingly the lenthg of his cage, giganto pythons, a wise old tortoise) and some of the animal barns (Tertia is still terrified of cows, or any animal significantly larger than herself.  She probably doesn't remember the close encounter she had with an unruly bull as a toddler at the fair, but her subconscious sure does!)

Quarta's quilt had a blue ribbon, and my 2 quilts had red.  My 2 knitted items had blues and my yarn had a red.  Of course, it does seem that just about everything gets a ribbon.  Everyone's a winner at the fair!  Not a bad way to celebrate the summer, really.
Olympic knitting continues.  I celebrated Division Day today.  That means I completed the 15 inches of the "lower body pattern," which I affectionately think of as the waffle stitch, and divided the right front, back, and left front.  The left and right fronts are hanging out on holders or scrap yarn while I continue in plain stockinette stitch on the back.  Yay for no more ribbing, it's going to go a lot faster from here on, even though it's bulkier and harder to maneuver.

From the cast-on at the bottom edge, here are the skeins/colorways I've used so far:

145 (copper/bronze/embers) - 96 yds.
345 (flame/bronze/embers) - 98 yds.
135 (copper/flame/embers) - 118 yds.
134 (copper/flame/bronze) - 96 yds.
113 (double copper/flame) - 106 yds.  This was a little finer than the gauge I wanted so I started alternating every other row with
553 (double embers/flame) - 82 yds, and finished the waffle stitch section to divide for the 3 sections; the back started with 553 and continues with
235 (caution/flame/embers) - 108 yds., about 2 inches so far this evening.

Still to blend in on the yoke are 123, 225, 125, and 115, plus any others I might need.  I've caught up with where I wanted to be if I hadn't had to frog my first 2 days' work.  It would be nice to speed through some of these stockinette sections and actually pull ahead of my goal.  So I suppose I better sign off and actually knit, right?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WIP Wednesday - County Fair entries!

Yesterday Quarta and I headed up to the Clark Co. Fairgrounds to drop off some exhibits for this year's fair.  We've never done anything like this before, and we're so excited!  From the archives of the blog they are...
Quarta's "Tea Time" quilt... her first quilt!  She designed and appliqued and embellished most of the pictures...
My "Framed In" quilt...
Jack's Chain, Jr. edition...
Nautilina Shawl...
Rose Lace Stole (a.k.a. Lady MacBeth, but she's out on parole now!).  Note the difference between a "shawl" and a "stole."  If I had taken before pictures of the thrift store sweater the yarn came from I could have entered it into a whole different category for recycled or upcycled items...
and finally, handspun Navajo-plied Targhee wool yarn from the Tour de Fleece.  I hadn't even washed and thwacked this yet, but it was fun to contribute these and I look forward to seeing them at the fair Friday.  Get your free admission tickets for the Fred Meyer pancake breakfast at your neighborhood store; most of us skip the long line for free pancakes and head straight to the other fun.  I'm going to try to convince the girls to let me spend some quality time in the sheep barn this year.  But it will be fun to see some of our family's things on exhibit!

As far as real Works in Progress are concerned, I'm mainly all about the Ravelympics right now.
Today's picture, Rhinebeck goes Ravellenic is laid on top of my 2009 Rhinebeck by Proxy so you can see they are really 2 different sweaters!  You can also see this one is slightly larger (but not too much larger like the one I frogged Sunday) and has a slightly different blend of colors.  I like it! I'm 10 inches in, thanks to a 2-hour wait at the DMV this morning.  That's just about where I should have been at 2 inches per day if I hadn't frogged my first attempt, so it removed some of the frustration associated with long waits at the DMV.  Everybody, wish Daniel success on his driving test tomorrow... in Kelso!  (I think I'll have him drive there, and knit some more on the way... the earliest local exam time was going to conflict with his departure for college). 

I'm also linking to Ginny's Yarn-Along, but unfortunately I don't have a book.  That's because my reading has really slowed down to a crawl... does Facebook count?  (NOT!)  Online news articles? How about the Veritas Press catalog?  Variety Sudoku puzzles?  I'm blaming late nights watching the Olympics and the general busy-ness and lazyness of summer.  I read Family Circle for the recipes and celebrity gossip magazines for the inside scoop on the Cruise/Holmes divorce when I was at the eye doctor's waiting room.  Seriously, I need to mend my ways and do a book review soon!