Wednesday, March 29, 2006

To Yuma and Back Again

We just returned from another visit to Yuma. It was a family get-together, always enjoyable, but would have been even moreso had it not been for the viruses left behind by the last bunch of visitors to Grandma & Grandpa's house. Doug came back with a horrible cough, Brian's fever broke on the plane returning home, and I have a whopping case of laryngitis. Robin seems to have survived with just a throat tickle. The various bugs did curtail our activities some, but we suffered along, sipping Margaritas by the pool in between popping lozenges. I'll say it again: Thank God for Ibuprofen.

Another thing about this particular visit - mockingbirds. In the tree right outside our bedroom. Their charming, delightful, and varied songs began every morning at 4:30 a.m. Does anybody out there have any good recipes? I was thinking maybe Curried Mockingbird with Mango-Papaya Chutney. Or, heck, this was the Southwest. How about Mockingbird Tacos?

I did finish Robin's sweater. This was supposed to be done a month ago, as part of the Knitting Olympics, but what can I say. I re-knitted a huge portion of it (twice) and it does finally fit. Ta-Daaaa! I suppose I'd have been better off in the Knitting Special Olympics.

Of course, Tina Shawl has been along for the trip, too, and is a welcome relief from my other Knitting Project of Epic Proportion - The Terrible Mutant Inky-Dinky Spider from Hell shawl. Now, I would not characterize the designer at Fiddlesticks as a raving sadist. Truly, I love her designs. I just think I'm in *a bit* over my head, and at this point I'm trying to decide whether I should (and this takes me a good looooong time) go ahead & knit the next 16-row repeat (no plain knit rows, no plain purl rows, but yos, yoos, togs, & trippples on both sides), or hurl the whole kit & caboodle out onto the driveway & run over it several times with the car. Thank goodness I've had some guidance through this shawl. The teacher at my LYS is ever so patient and tells me that there's no crying in lace knitting. Yeah. Right.

In between knitting marathons, time in the pool, and lozenge popping, we managed to squeeze in a visit to the Annual Yuma Chili Cookoff (see photo of bellydancers. . . always a necessity at a Chili Cookoff), and a visit to the Yuma Camel Farm, where my little friend whom I met in December, is growing like a weed.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

One Warped Woman

I've taken the plunge. My new loom (which arrived last June) has not yet had a warp on it. This is a disgrace, and my dearest of friends have not ceased to remind me. And I agree. I can't figure out what has been the hangup, other than:
a. An acute case of procrastination
b. Maybe a little bit of ADD (okay Friends, you can stop giggling now. . . how about some popcorn?)
c. Issues having to do with a cross bar from the back beam not securely staying in place, but rather sproinging up at random intervals and then dangling from the back beam
d. Life (which is good, mind you, it just keeps me busy)

So, this week, I ventured forth and warped the loom. Voila!

It is a Louet Delta loom with 8 harnesses, which should keep me occupied for a very long time. My former loom was a 4 harness LeClerc Nilus jack loom, and I loved its simplicity. The new loom is a countermarche, a different system which allows the shed (or space between raised & lowered shafts) to be wider, allowing easier passage of the shuttle. Perhaps it's intimidation that has held me back. I admit to being overwhelmed more than a bit, while it was being put together by DH (who does not weave & hasn't a clue, but who nevertheless was willing to tackle the assembly). But I really think it was the sproinging (see "c" above). That is not an issue now that a warp is actually *on* the loom. Yet.

I truly appreciate the ease of treadling. Oh. My. Gosh. I haven't strained a muscle *anywhere* *yet* operating this new loom. It has back-hinged treadles, which I had heard would make a difference. It's unbelieveable. I'm a happy camper.

Sweater? What sweater?

Shawl? What shawl?

Oh, and just because I thought that this photo was one of the most adorable that my hubby has ever taken, I'm posting a little alpaca friend that we met on Salt Spring Island last fall.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tina Shawl KAL Progress

I've been working on the Tina shawl (Fiddlesticks Knitting) center, and finally finished that part of the shawl. Then, knitted the extra row as per the instructions, and now I'm ready to pick up the stitches along the remaining three sides, to begin working in the round (or square, to be more accurate). The cast-on was provisional, so the stitches at the beginning of the center square are being held on waste yarn. That leaves the two sides, which will need to have 120 stitches picked up from each side. Because of the lace pattern used in the center, the sides of the square are wavy, and the entire center is very three-dimensional. This should block out. I hope.

Joy, who is leading the pack right now, & is doing the shawl in a lovely soft rose alpaca, had the following suggestion:

"The way I worked out how to pick up the stitches along the sides is this:  I picked up 13 stitches in each scallop and 3 for the half scallop.  Since I didn't slip a stitch at the beginning of the row I just eyeballed the placement to even things out, but I found dealing with 13 stitches at a a whole lot easier."

So I plan to proceed, changing now to size 4 needles from the size 6 used in the center of the shawl, and pick up the side stitches, then the stitches from the provisional cast-on, then the remaining side.

I should also note that there are supposed to be 120 stitches on the top and bottom of the shawl as well. The cast on was 113 stitches, so I will need to add 7 stitches on the top and the bottom to bring the number up to 120.

Don't even ask me about the sweater. It's living in a bag right now.

Just for fun, I thought I'd include a couple of photos from our weekend outing to Skagit Valley. We stayed at the LaConner Thousand Trails campground, and the drive by the daffodil fields was lovely. We took a little break from camping to meet up with friends & attend "The Barber of Seville" at McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon - a fun production which brought back fond memories of Bugs Bunny, and then we had a sumptuous dinner at the Rhododendron Cafe. . . still my favorite.