Thursday, November 29, 2007

Two Finishes for the Post of One!

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was working on something, and that it was seasonally relevant, but not a turkey. I posted this picture:

I'm pleased to say that the project is now finished, and now for the big reveal:

Dixon the Duck

The seasonal relevance? College (American) Football, of course! Let me explain... Mr. Tall's biggest flaw is that he is a fan of the USC Trojans (boo! hiss!). The downside to this is that he watches the games whenever they're broadcast here in the UK and they are his team of preference when he's playing NCAA '07 Football on his PlayStation. The big problem with this, of course, is that the Trojans are just one of those teams that always seem to win and do well (boo! hiss!).

So... Dixon the Duck. With all the USC Trojan game watching and PlayStation playing going on around the house, I needed a little something of my own for some sanity. Enter Dixon, named after the UO Quarterback, who has sadly been injured.

The pattern for the duck comes out of Fiona McTague's irresistible book,
Knitted Toys, which is definitely worth a look at as there are a lot of great patterns and the pictures are superb. The sweater was adapted from The Incredible, Custom-Fit Raglan Sweater, and the "O" was charted out from the school's official logo and knit using intarsia in the round.

To get the sweater just right, I knit all duck pieces, and did all the finishing, save poor Dixon's head. I decided it was best to keep Dixon un-capitated until I had finished the sweater, and so he sat and waited patiently.

Un-capitated Dixon

I'm quite glad that he's finished, despite the sagging bowl hopes for Oregon, we'll cheer the team on anyways!


Start-End: September 21 - November 23, 2007
Pattern: "Duck" from Knitted Toys: 21 Easy-to-Knit Patterns for Irresistible Soft Toys by Fiona McTague
Yarn: King Cole Merino Blend DK
Needles: KnitPicks Options US 4/3.5 mm
Other: I knit the head and sleeves in the round, and the legs and feet connected in one piece. If I knit this again, I would try to knit the body and head in one piece to avoid some of the seaming up.

Oregon Sweater

Start-End: September 27-November 23, 2007
Pattern: The Incredible, Custom-fit Raglan Sweater by Pamela Costello
Yarn: Palette Yarns #018 (DK) in green and scraps of King Cole Merino DK for the "O"
Needles:KnitPicks Options US 4/3.5 mm
Other: I tried the intarsia-in-the-round technique found here. It worked well enough for this purpose, but it's quite noticeable on the back of the sweater, where I started/ended the rounds. I'm not entirely sure if it's because of my error or the fact that intarsia-in-the-round just isn't meant to be.

Monday, November 26, 2007

One more about Harrogate...

Yes, I did want to do one more post on Thursday and going to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show...

I didn't take many pictures at the show. Really, the day went by so fast! I managed to get an introductory walk through before taking a bead knitting class where we learned how to string and place beads. I then went back to the Knit & Crochet Guild stand where Susoolu and Wye Sue were. Susoolu and I made a run around to a couple booths, and I found some lovely Shetland Chunky from Jamieson's. I found a 10-skein colorway pack containing 5 different colorways. I have it earmarked for a cardigan of some sort for myself, because they are just my colors.

Jamieson's Chunky Shetland Marl

I then went and grabbed some lunch, and made my second pass around the exhibition - this time with intent to purchase! I got a couple skeins that are intended for Christmas gifts, so I won't detail here. I then found the Euro Japan Links stand, where I got some beautiful Japanese fabric, along with a pattern/zipper for a small change purse:

Change purse fabric

One of the things I was looking for was the perfect yarn to knit up Muir. I had decided to buy some laceweight from Jamieson & Smith, when I decided to wander into the "A" hall. From last year, I had remembered this hall as being all textile exhibits, so I had skipped it on my initial passes, purely for reasons of time. I decided to pass through and learned that I was wrong - there were also some stalls selling yarn, one of which was the stand for Habu. There, I found THE yarn for Muir:

Bamboo lace-weight Habu

I also got some of the silk/stainless steel blend of Habu, as well as some merino laceweight.

A trip back to the KCG stand to drop off my purchases, and I soon met up with Mary. I had mentioned to Susoolu and Wye Sue that I have an interest in bead and wire knitting, but just hadn't tried it yet. I was told that Mary was the go-to person, so she came and imparted so much wisdom onto me, I think I'm still processing it. The gem to me was when she said something to the effect that, with wire/bead knitting, "you're not knitting to clothe the form, you're knitting to create the form". Major. Lightbulb. Moment. I was inspired, and went in search of wire.

It was such a different experience from the previous year, and I'm not sure if I'll make it to next year's or not, but for me it was worth the trip.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Post-Harrogate Coma

The Knitting and Stitching Show was great. I met a lot of great people, got into some really great conversations, and started my love affair with Habu Yarns.

As much as I want to show off my new goodies, I'll have to wait to photograph them this weekend. The days are short enough that I don't really have usable daylight during the work week - tomorrow, the sun will rise at 7:42 a.m., and set at 3:53 p.m. This is the downside of those lovely long summer nights we were enjoying not too long ago.

Susoolu was kind enough to give me a lift to Harrogate, and I think I scared her a bit with my reaction when I saw this:

Cattlemen's Association Restaurant

See, my Brother-in-Law started a love affair with Cattlemen's Restaurant while he was in college, and I wondered if they could be one and the same. Could this British restaurant actually have a woman who roams the restaurant with a cast-iron kettle of baked beans? The answer is no, but it was great hearing BIL's reaction when I told him that there might be the possibility.

I've got much more to share from the show, and I'll be sharing that over the next few days. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and/or a good Thursday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just in time for Christmas...

The only trouble with wearing hand-knit socks (says the knitter currently still working on her first pair) is the inability to show them off properly. Sure, you can do the socks-with-sandals look if you're daring, but that's not always feasible.

Just in time for Christmas, a pair of shoes with a clear plastic upper. Better yet, they're not just any shoe:

Clear Converse All Stars

Anyone who knows me knows I live in these shoes - I wore a baby blue pair at our wedding, and will often attach a bit of moleskin to the bottom of an old pair to make shoes for contra dancing. Perhaps this is the extra kick I need to finish off my first pair of socks.

Santa - they're only available at Journeys Shoe Stores and I wear a US Womens 8 (which is a mens six).

Happy Thanksgiving to any and all celebrating it tomorrow. Last year, we roasted a small joint of turkey and made mashed potatoes and gravy, but it still didn't feel very Thanksgiving-ish, so we're not going to bother this year. Instead, we'll go out for a traditional Sunday Roast and call it good.

Tomorrow though, I will be at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. I'm not planning on buying a lot, but we'll see if that changes!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Puzzler answer

Yes, I've given up on NaBloPoMo. I realized that I was posting just to post and keep up with the goal. While achieving goals is noble and something we should all strive for, I felt that I was sacrificing quality for quantity.

I feel that we knitters should shoot for March or February to be NaBloPoMo. We can catch up on all the Christmas knitting we did and goodies we received over the holidays. November is a cruel month to be a knitting blogger...

Anyways, last post I asked a question:

You are given two ropes. You are told that it takes 60 minutes from each rope to burn from one end to the other. However, the ropes are neither identical nor uniform - it may take 45 minutes for the rope to burn 1/10th of the length, and 15 minutes for the other 9/10.

How can you time 45 minutes?

The answer:

If you light both ends of one rope, it should take 30 minutes for the flames to meet. So, how can you tell 45 minutes have gone by?

Start by lighting both ends of rope A, and one end of rope B. When 30 minutes has gone by (the flames on rope A meet), light the second end of rope B. Since you had 30 minutes left to burn on rope B, the two flames will meet 15 minutes later, which would be 45 minutes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A puzzler

Just to get you thinking...

You are given two ropes. You are told that it takes 60 minutes from each rope to burn from one end to the other. However, the ropes are neither identical nor uniform - it may take 45 minutes for the rope to burn 1/10th of the length, and 15 minutes for the other 9/10.

How can you time 45 minutes?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hey, Eugene!

Yesterday, Mr. Tall and I trekked up to Newcastle to see my most favoritest band in the whole wide world in concert.

The stage was set...

That picture? The one of the stage? I didn't run up to the front to take that picture, nor did I use the zoom lens. That was from my actual paid-for seat. IN THE FRONT ROW.

I've never had such good seats to a concert before. While I couldn't see all members of the band, I felt almost as if I was at a private concert. Really, I'm a bit embarrassed by how geeked I was to be in the front row, but can you blame me?

I guess I should mention the band - Pink Martini is a group that is very tough to describe if you haven't heard them. They're a bit of a melting pot of night club world music. Really, check out a CD or find a way to listen to a clip. You can thank me later.

This was my fourth Pink Martini concert, and by far the best. The band will often perform with a local city symphony. While these concerts are good, I really find that getting just the band is a better experience all around. There's a much more intimate, night club feel. Did I also mention that we had front row seats? Yeah, that helped with it being the best concert so far.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

So close to a FO

Would have a FO to share with you tonight, except that I decided to get a bit tricksy at the last minute... we'll see how that turns out.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Want to live on Fair Isle?

Link to article

Remote island move tempts hundreds from US

Hundreds of Americans have inquired about starting a new life on Britain's most remote inhabited island... amid a frenzied interest in knitting.

A search has been launched for new residents to live on Fair Isle, 25 miles south-west of the Shetland mainland, but skills including construction skills or experience in knitting are required.

The National Trust for Scotland said today it had received more than 800 inquiries from people interested in the move.

Of those who have expressed an interest, around 95 per cent are from America, and many have knitting skills which the island is famous for.

In total, 80 firm applications have been received to live on the island, which has a population of just 70.

One of the three properties available has already been let to a marine engineer who was born on the island and who had hoped to return.

There are now two houses available, one four-bedroom and one five. No jobs are offered but there will be opportunities, particularly for those with construction skills or experience in knitting.

Angus Jack, NTS regional surveyor in Inverness who is handling the leasing, said: "There is no doubt that the Americans are attracted by the knitting.

"Many of the applicants from the States have families that they would bring with them. Many of their applications are very good, they have the skills we are looking for in knitting, construction, IT and engineering.

"There has been a major interest in knitting and the vast majority of Americans do have knitting skills. We have even had applications from men who are avid knitters.

"Some applicants have written books on knitting, one in particular wants to write a book specifically on Fair Isle knitting."

Mr Jack said the NTS and the islanders' housing forum will draw up a shortlist of around eight applicants by the beginning of next month. These people will be asked to produce detailed business plans and research how they would make a living on the island.

Of these. two or three will be asked to travel to the Fair Isle for a three-day visit, after which the forum will decide which candidates should make the move.

Fair Isle is well known as a knitting method and a pattern type. Real Fair Isle patterns are built up in horizontal bands, by knitting two coloured yarns in each row.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona, Scotland

I visited here when my parents came out for a visit. It was such a beautiful, peaceful, remote island. Worth a visit if you're in the area.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Homage to the Electrical Goddess

It's that awkward time of year. It's chilly enough that a warm blanket is a near constant companion, but it's not quite cool enough out to justify turning on the heat. My compromise, is to turn on our electric fireplace for a bit. I'll close both doors to the living room, turn on the fireplace, and snuggle down. Caiomhe likes to snuggle down, too, right in front of the fire.

Caiomhe worships the heating Goddess

I think this windy/rainy/sunny/rainy-again day calls for a bit of knitting. The fire is off and Caiomhe and I have returned to our normal codependent state of trying to keep each other warm in our roles of lap and lap-warmer.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The benefit of early, dark nights... that it makes for early star-gazing. Mr. Tall pointed out a spot in our backyard where there is little interference from street lamps, and I was blown away by all the stars I could see in the sky.

When was the last time you took a moment like that? What did you do?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Two Years

Today is our second wedding anniversary :)

The day started out great and sunny - not what we were expecting for a November Seattle wedding. But then, it started to rain, which left us this gorgeous treat to enjoy during our reception.

As china is the "modern" anniversary gift and we are so not china people, we instead went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. We laughed over the waitress who couldn't understand a request for "tap water" and brought us "white wine". My fortune cookie said something about me having silly dreams (I think the point was that perhaps I should be more serious about the things I dream of doing but think are silly...)

There is knitting going on here - I'm hoping to have a couple FO's within the next week or so :)

Monday, November 5, 2007


Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason, and plot,
I know of no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Today is Guy Fawkes Day, which (at least in this area) is more commonly known as Bonfire night. Fawkes was born in York, and you can still visit the church he was baptized in, and even stay in the room he was born in, as it is now a hotel.

The story goes that Fawkes, a Catholic, was a conspirator in the Gunpowder plot of 1605. The aim of the plot was to blow up Parliament, kill the Protestant King James I, and bring about a rebellion to make England a Catholic country once more.

The plot failed, Fawkes was apprehended, tortured, tried and eventually killed for his part in the conspiracy.

Today, the foiling of the plot is still celebrated. Bonfires and firework displays dot the countryside, and occasionally effigies of Fawkes are burned.

Last year's bonfire

Last year's bonfire and full moon

I'm not sure if we're going to go this year or not. We were in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago, during the wildfires, and we may be "fired" out.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A quick one today...

I've decided that November is a bad month for a knitter to try this blog-post-a-day thing. I'm still giving it a go, but it's so hard not to share knitting with you that will (hopefully) be a gift in a few weeks!

In other news, we had a rare treat here. Mr. Tall has subscribed to NASN, a cable station that plays North American sports. We get a few college (American) football games each week, along with some other sports. Today, we got to watch my alma mater, the University of Oregon, defeat the (no longer) undefeated Arizona Sun Devils!

Perhaps the Ducks will be at the Rose Bowl this year. If so, perhaps we'll camp out spots and watch the Rose Parade live!

Go Ducks!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Everyday uses for knitting gear

An everyday row counter becomes...

A tally of trick-or-treaters for Halloween!

Hopefully, I'll remember to look at this post next year, so I can buy enough candy and not have to do the emergency run to Tesco as we did this year ;)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Not knitting, but beautiful all the same.

Last July, Mr. Tall and I visited Paris for a long weekend. We had been living in the UK for a month and couldn't wait to get out and explore "the continent" a bit more. It was in Paris that we really developed an appreciation for art museums.

While we liked The Louvre, we preferred Musee d'Orsay. Perhaps it was the much more manageable size, or perhaps it was just the style - d'Orsay exhibits a lot of impressionist art. At the time, there was a special exhibit on the works of J. F. Willumsen. Willumsen (1863-1958) was a Danish painter, sculptor, ceramist, architect, and photographer.

One work in particular caught my eye.

Willumsen - A Mountain Climber, 1904

There are so many things I love about this work of art. I love the sense of strength and confidence emanating from the woman while she is resting. I imagine that she is looking down into a valley, reflecting on the beauty of the area instead of congratulating herself for reaching that point (as I would likely be doing). I love that my reaction to this artwork is to feel a sense of peaceful empowerment. The colors and technique astound me - especially in person.

Ever since stumbling across Willumsen at d'Orsay, I've changed my museum-visiting strategy. I used to go into a museum with the intention of seeing the popular highlights. Now, my goal is to find other unknown-to-me artists, much like Willumsen, whose work strikes me.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Today, I'm kicking off NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) with birthday wishes for my dear husband.

At a luau on Kauai during our honeymoon

Happy birthday, and thanks for giving me a great reason to bake some carrot cake! I really hope it makes up for the horrendous eggs I tried cooking you this morning ;)

MLAR always :)