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Monday, July 27, 2009

Luna Beginnings


I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately. I now have 2 books left in the 9 book Sookie Stackhouse series. I'm normally a very slow reader, however I'm zipping through this series because they're all quick easy reads. If Charlaine Harris had written 52 books in the series, I would have absolutely no problems with completing them all if I were participating in the 52Books52Weeks challenge. I'd prolly finish them all in under half a year. Anyhow, I won't be able to get to the last 2 books right away as they're currently checked out at the library.

I thought I'd change gears and try a different series by Ms Harris. I started a bit of Grave Sight and had some trouble changing gears and getting into the new voice and story. I find myself rereading the same parts over again because I can't seem to stay focused on the story.

I'm still playing Tiger Woods 10. I'm working my way through the Tournament Challenge and have completed all the Easy and Medium challenges. I've just started the Hard ones, and boy are they hard!

And I find I'm addicted to this numeric puzzle even though I am not very good at solving them. I play them on my iPod. I was stumped on the one pictured above for the longest time. I eventually completed it -- don't ask me how many attempts it took -- and apparently not very quickly. The applet told me I finished it in ~25 minutes, which turned out to be faster than 3% of other players. Ya know what that means? 97% of you could prolly do it in under 25 minutes. Yeah, I'm a slowpoke. That puzzle site has a difficulty level for everybody, I think there are 7 or 8 different levels so you're sure to find one that is a good match for you.


1st repeat: rows 1-34

This is the beginning of my new big project, using the splitty purple yarn which is driving me nuts. There are some strands that tend to snag & get pulled out, then it's nearly impossible to blend them back in. I'm worried about the "delicate" care needed with any garment made with this yarn. I feel like I'm cheating here because I've actually made this shawl before in red. I love how straightforward the instructions are, and it is also a bit easier this second time. Well, almost...

I'm pretty sure I did a shoddy job at the PCO beginnings. Unzipping wasn't too bad, however I seem to have a bumpy ridge along the side where I picked up stitches. Can you see it? This is at the top center of the shawl and will prolly not be very noticeable while the shawl is worn. Yet, this ridge still bothers me. I think it might be because I picked up 2 strands instead of 1 strand along the edge?

2nd repeat: 1-14; (15-34) x2

Here's what the shawl looks like after completing the 2nd repeat. I'm on my 2nd hank of yarn at this point.

The plan is to finish this and have it blocked before my cousin's wedding in mid-Sept. This shawl is slow going since I tend to work on it while listening to an audio book. Unfortunately I've been reading a lot of printed books these days, so less knitting accomplished.

The red version I made came out on the short side, and that was 3 repeats long. I'm pretty certain I will knit more than 3 repeats, maybe 4 or 5 repeats. I haven't decided when I'll stop. I realize that the shawl will stretch during blocking, and I'll have to guesstimate what the final size will be.


I've been playing around with Facebook a bit more lately. I've been on it for a long time and would log in about once every few months. I'm trying to get better at it and log in more regularly. I discovered LastFM on Dianna's profile page and took a closer look. It's kinda like an online radio station. Listened to some new songs. Added the widget to my FB page.

You can search for an artist and it will play songs by that artist plus other songs by (other similar) artists you might like. It's kinda nifty to discover new music you might never have heard before. It works fine when you look up artists such as Muse, Fischerspooner, Francis Cabrel, etc. However I can tell you it comes to a grinding halt when you look up Mozart. So no luck getting it to play Mozart k575 for me. Oh well.

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tag You're It


I've been trying to take better photos of my yarn and have found that my pics tend to come out better if I use a white towel as background. You can see this in the photos in my RavStash. The towel background pics look better than the ones with other (carpet, wood table/floor, blanket, etc) backgrounds. I've found that natural daytime light through the window works best. I get the crappiest photos when I try taking pics at night. It doesn't matter which background or what kind of light bulb I use to light up the room.

A while back, Radu & I were discussing photography related stuff and we touched on the light box. I have seen a DIY guide for making one of these but couldn't remember where, so Radu sent me a link to such a guide. I know that some knitters who take spectacular photos of their knits/yarn use these things. I'd love to make one of these someday.

Wanna see what happens when you take this little DIY light box up a notch (or two or three or ... a gazllion)? Check out this photographer's site, look at his 18May2009 entry, and watch the guide to his photo studio video. Now that's quite a setup!


I've discovered this neat little blog by way of Mary Tess, which has lots of tips on doing things the new Old School way. I'll have to try the basil cuttings thing.

I haven't done a meme in awhile...

I don't recall Sam letting me know that she tagged me for this meme, I just happened to stumbled upon it on her blog. (I didn't change one question or add one more question)

The rules are:
1. respond and rework; answer the questions on your blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention, add one more question of your own (don't feel obliged as it's quite long already!)
2. Tag eight other people.

Introduce yourself and tell us a little about who you are and what you do:
I'm Marie. I'm a SAHM with one preschooler who keeps me quite busy. I like to knit a little when I manage to find some "me" time. I guess y'all kinda knew that already. :-)

What is your current obsession?
Reading all the Sookie Stackhouse books (and not getting much sleep as a result). Playing TW10 on the Wii, and trying to master the Wolf Creek (omg, holes 3 & 7 are baaaaad!!!) & Pebble Beach courses. Shopping around for a new mattress and getting ideas for a new bedroom furniture set.

What is your greatest achievement?
Giving birth to my daughter.

Coffee or Tea?
Both. Coffee in the morning with breakfast. Tea the rest of the day. I'm currently stuck on Peet's MajD's blend.

What's for dinner?
It's hot here, so probably something simple like rotisserie chicken over salad, followed by a chilled fruit bowl consisting of honeydew, watermelon, pineapple, grapes, strawberries, and blackberries. I may throw in some mango too.

What are you listening to right now?
The sound of the dryer.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Cherry Vanilla atm, prolly because it was somewhat recently discontinued and then brought back. Feel like I must stock up before they decide to discontinue it again.

What do you think of the person who tagged you?
She's talent and helpful.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
Belfast, Maine to see Carolyn.

Which language do you want to learn?
Well, there's more than one.
Least likely to be used: Latin
To refresh my memory: French
Useful in my neck of the woods: Spanish
After that, I'd love to add Mandarin, Gaelic, German, and Italian

What's your favorite quote (for now)?
To ask permisssion is to seek denial. (Scott McNealy)

What is your favorite colour?

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
Anything that is non-constrictive, like the blue shirt pictured below.

What is your dream job?
I still haven't figured out what that is. It would have to be something fun, interesting and challenging. It'd have to be a job where I'm not conditioned to dread answering the phone (due to people calling only to nag/complain about stuff).

What is your worst habit?
Procrastinating on tasks that should take higher priority.

Describe your personal style?
I used to be an LL Bean catalog with the polo style shirts and khaki pants. I'm in a transitional phase trying to change this, and have some more modern/stylish pieces. But now that the weather is hot hot hot, you're most likely going to find me looking like an REI catalog now. :-O Today, I'm wearing an ExOfficio shirt (looks like this one, in lapis blue) with North Face shorts.

What are you going to do after this?
Guess I should get off the 'puter and do one of those high priority tasks which I have been procrastinating. :-)

What is your favorite fruit?
Pineapple and strawberries.

What inspires you?
Other people.

Your favorite book?
You want me to pick just ONE? The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas (French version: Part I & Part II)

What is your favorite smell?
Lavender is one.

What are you most proud of?
My daughter.

How many times do you press the snooze button before you get up?
None. I don't use an alarm clock.

What's your 'claim to fame'?

Complete the following:

Love is…

like a breath of fresh air.

What would you like to make next?

Knittingwise: a shawl. Cookingwise: braised lamb shanks.

Tag 8 other people:

With so many extraordinary bloggers out there, I find it difficult to single out only 8. So if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged! Please leave a comment with a link to your Meme Post so everyone can take a lookie.


I want to thank my readers and people on Rav for their help in identifying the mystery blue yarn. I've discovered that the fiber content is 70% Acrylic and 30% Cuprammonium Rayon. Tracy mentioned the burn test. I vaguely recall hearing about this before. I'll have to file that into memory for future reference. And Donna came up with a suggestion for getting the yarn to urcurl/relax, something I might have done if I hadn't already rewound them into balls. Yes, I'm excessively lazy. We'll see...

I still have no idea how much yardage there is, which makes it a challenge in thinking up suitable uses for the yarn. I wonder why my friend's MIL decided to use acrylic/nylon yarn to make a lacy shell, because it is my understanding that this fiber content wouldn't block lace very well (not as well as natural fibers would). I'm thinking I'll have to do something with plain stockinette. I suppose I could try to make a small stockinette shell for Miss M, surely there is enough yarn to make a preschooler size garment? Although I'm not sure if Miss M would like the feel of the yarn. It feels a bit scratchy in my hands. Perhaps it'll soften up after washing?

Hmmm... I wonder if I can knit a small shell in the round (cuz I hate hate hate seaming), starting from the bottom hem. Knit up to the underarm. Then... well, I don't know what, but surely I can work it so all I'd need to do is seam two small sections at the shoulder.

Lessee, what else is going on in my neck of the woods. Last time I mentioned having 2 things to show you, but one needed seaming and the other needed ends weaved in. Well, nothing has changed there. :-( I'm so lazy when it comes to finishing.

On the other hand, I did manage to knit 2 rows of this shawl using the purple yarn you saw here. I'm hoping to have it finished (and blocked) by mid-Sept. I'll try to post some photos next time. I find I'm not enjoying knitting this shawl as much as I did the first time because this purple yarn is so splitty and it also snags on the dry spots on my fingers.

Yeah, not much knitting has been happening over here. I'm doing a lot of reading these days, still hooked on the Sookie Stackhouse series. Unfortunately I can't knit and read simultaneously; I know that some people are able to do this. I'm currently reading All Together Dead (book 7). Yes, I'm reading them out of order because I can't get them in my hands in order. I've already finished: Dead Until Dark (book 1), Living Dead in Dallas (book 2), Dead to the World (book 4), and Definitely Dead (book 6). And I'm still chipping away at Acqua Alta by Donna Leon, where I'll advance a few pages in the morning while I'm having by breakfast.

I want to see this movie! I need to refresh my memory on the details, but I remember what happens at the end.

(click on photo to enlarge)

I snapped this photo, back in February, at this LYS in San Mateo. Isn't it pretty?

Alrighty, it's time for me to have some lunch, take a load out of the dryer, put another load into the washer, change the sheets on all the beds, and go return stuff to the library. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A mystery

.--- -.-. ....

Just wanted to share photos from last winter of JCH (see 25Nov07 post) washed and blocking. I soaked it in some Eucalan no-rinse wool wash, gently squeezed out excess water and laid it flat on these mats I got at Costco for about $12 (eight 24" squares). You can see an example of how I use the mats here. I love them! I recently saw a package of "kid" colored mats there. I only pinned out the earflaps.

This is what the hat looked like after its bath. The yarn is 100% wool and the dangling bits were starting to "stick" together in a bad way, so I pried the 3 strands apart and then braided it partway down. Guess I shouldn't be surprised about that happening since it's 100% wool.

I found a little candy jar to prop the hat on for these shots.

Here's the surprising part. When I looked inside the hat, I found the yarny ends from tying the pompom to the top of the hat! Wow, that was sloppy of me. Guess I forgot to weave them in or snip them shorter. That didn't seem to bother DH though.

-- -.-- ... - . .-. -.-- / -.-- .- .-. -.

A couple of months ago, V stopped by with a bag of yarn that she inherited from her MIL. In this bag I found this WIP and some balls of the same yarn. The WIP looks like a (horseshoe) lace shell, it's mostly rectangular with some armhole shaping at the top. From what I can gather, her MIL was a very skinny woman. I don't know whether this is supposed to be the front side or the back side, but regardless, this top would never fit me. Anyhow, I started to frog this piece and rewind the yarn into a ball.

Besides her MIL being skinny, I'd also guess that her favorite way to join yarn was to tie the two ends together. I found several of these as I frogged the piece. I don't know how long this shell has been sitting around, it might have been years. The yarn was very curly/crinkly. I wonder how long it will take for the yarn to "relax".

There were some stains on the WIP, probably from sitting around in a dark corner for aeons. In retrospect I wonder if I should have washed it before frogging. Oh well, too late now. I think I'll just have to knit with it and then wash it.

When I finished frogging/rewinding, I ended up with 3 balls of varying sizes. I don't have a scale to weigh each ball. Could the largest be one skein's worth? I can't be absolutely sure, the largest one seems to be heavier than one skein. Wish I had a scale. The other two don't seem to add up to the same size as the largest one (I'm eyeballing it here). Very confused...

About this blue yarn ... I have absolutely no idea what kind of yarn this is. From the thinness, I'd say it is fingerling weight. All I have to go by is the name Panda. I did a yarn search on Rav and came up with nothing.

What I know/guess:
-- Panda is either the maker of the yarn or the name of the yarn
-- Japanese yarn
-- Fingerling weight
-- Skeins come in 25 gm
-- Content is 70% of one thing and 30% of something else

Unfortunately I can't read Japanese to figure out the rest (click on pics to enlarge). Anybody have any ideas?

What I want to know:
-- General info about yarn.
-- Fiber content? (acrylic? cotton? nylon? ...)
-- Yardage per skein (so I can get a feel for how much total yardage I have)
-- Yarn wight? (fingerling?)
-- Care instructions
-- What kind of projects this yarn is best suited for

Lessee, not much else going on here. I can't take pics of my other knitting until I weave in ends on one and seam up the other. As simple as these tasks are, I am very good at procrastinating when it comes to weaving/seaming. Perhaps I'll have photos of those items next time. Here's a little closeup of one of them. Can you guess what it is? Hint: it's something I haven't made in a loooooong time.

I really haven't done much knitting lately. Much of my free time has been consumed by reading -- both printed & audio flavors -- and also by Wii games. I really love DDR and have discovered that it's easier to place the game mat on top of the same foam mats I use for blocking my knits. This makes a big difference compared to playing directly on hardwood floor. When I'm not playing DDR, I'm working on my golf swing. We upgraded to Tiger Woods 2010 with the MotionPlus thing. WOW! That motion addon really changes the way this game is played compared to the 2009 version. Now I can't imagine playing without it. DH is much better at golf than I am. I'm still learning how to play better, haven't tuned by clubs yet, and hope to someday become good enough to try playing online with others.

On the book front... I had mentioned reading Acqua Alta last time. Well, I'm still chipping away at it. I got sidetracked by the Sookie Stackhouse series which several people have turned me on to. I finished Dead Until Dark (book1), a quick easy read, and will go pick up Living Dead in Dallas (book2) later today. I can't help but notice the parallels between this series & the Twi series. So far I like Sookie more than Bella, and I like Edward more than Bill. There's something disturbing about Bill, I haven't quite put my finger on it. Ok, I guess I just don't like him. Perhaps I'll have a better opinion of him when I read the 2nd book.

I must thank all my readers for helping to identify the Japanese Honeysuckle in my yard (see 24Jun09 post). I really can't complain despite it being a weed or invasive species. It looks and smells lovely. But I'll will hack away at it without guilt and push it back some. And thanks to one of my anonymous readers, I also learned something about peach trees! :-)

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sock 7 Beginnings

... --- -.-. -.- / --...
Here's the start of Practice Pair #7.

64st 2.75mm

This is my first attempt at a lace sock. It's the stitch pattern from bwt1.219 (blue book), converted for knitting in the round. The nice thing about doing it in the round is not having to work any P2TogB. I know it is hard to see what it looks like on this sock. It's the exact same stitch pattern I used is this washcloth, so the washcloth photo will give you a better idea of what it will look like on the sock. I'm still starting socks from the toe, even though I keep telling myself that I should try starting from the cuff again. I've only started at the cuff that one time (the 1st pair) and I should give it another chance.

I decided to do SRH on this. I can't believe I've actually warmed up to this type of heel, especially after my disastrous first attempt. Back then I thought I would never do it again. It really isn't so bad. I still need practice though cuz after completing the SRH, I found the backside 1 stitch short. Where did this stitch go? Easy fix, just add one and move one.

These pics were taken in crappy nighttime lighting. I've worked most of the leg at this point. I think I'll add another 1 or 2 repeats and then switch to the cuf. I haven't yet decided on the cuff type. It'll either by k1p1 or k2p2; either will work since my total st count is divisible by 4. I'm sorta leaning towards k1p1 to snug it up because the sock is on the loosey goosey side. Which would you choose?

48? 56? 64?

I couldn't decide how many stitches to cast on. There were limitations due to the wide lace pattern repeat (8st). I went with 64st & 2.75mm. It's loose for me, but would prolly fit someone more average sized. I think 56st would have been nice, except that I would end up with 7 repeats and I couldn't evenly divide that into the front side and back side. This meant my other option would be 48st, so I'd have 3 repeats on the front side and 3 repeats on the back side, but I was worried about the sock being too small.

A repeat and a half more. I think this is a good length, time to start the cuff.

I was leaning towards k1p1 earlier but ended up doing k2p2 for the cuff.

I know the sock looks like wet cabbage in all these pics. The pattern will definitely show better on someone with a larger foot/leg. I wonder if the sock will snug up a bit after throwing it into the wash. Maybe I'll use smaller pointy sticks for its mate.

.-.. .. ...- .-. . ...

I took Little Brother with me on my little trip to S County and actually finished it near the end of the trip. I enjoyed reading this book. I think I was a bit optimistic when I packed for the trip: 3 books and 3 knitting projects. Geez, you'd think I'd be able to finish reading the easy reading teen novel quickly to move on to another book! I had brought along Acqua Alta thinking a mystery would be a nice change of pace afterward, plus it is adult fiction. I'm trying to break out of my teen fiction rut. (LB would be the 5th in a row) I actually picked up 4 other Donna Leon mysteries which I later decided not to bring because there really was no hope of reading all 5 mysteries in just a few days. I've read a handful of her mysteries and I love how she describes Venice. I'll have to go there someday.

.... . .- .-.. -.. ... -... ..- .-. --.

While up here, I chipped away on one of my knitting projects and ignored the other two. I also managed to do a little wine tasting. I guess it's been a while since I went north of H'burg, because I discovered that Sbragia has replaced Lake Sonoma Winery at the north end of Dry Creek Rd. Definitely make a stop here, it's up on a hill and you get a nice view from up there. Oh and the wines aren't too shabby either. :-)

This small town has a weekly newspaper. This is the June 25 to July 1 issue. And of course there must be wine related news on the front page.

Downtown H is not too large, just a few blocks. There's a little park (1x1 block square) and some shops/restaurants. I especially liked the antique stores because you never know what sort of neato mosquito things you'll find in them. And of course I ended up in a few bookstores. There is a nice grocery store/deli you must drop by if you're ever in this town. You can pick up sandwiches, pizza, wine, bread, cheese, and lots of other goodies. Once thing I didn't find during this trip to the store was SEEDLESS raspberry preserves. Now that's hard to find when you need a jar to make chocolate G,odiva liqueur raspberry truffles. It's not something you usually find at your average supermarket (well, not at my Safeway). Anyhow, you'll find this store at the SE corner of the park.

I wanted to pick up some postcards while up here to sendto/surprise B in TN. Unfortunately to my surprise, touristy postcards aren't that ubiquitous around here. And I'm pretty sure that I hadn't just tuned them out due to having grown up in a touristy town myself. The N County side of Wine Country here draws a much larger touristy crowd and I'd bet postcards would be easier to find on that side than the S County side. That's what I love about this side, it's less crowded and more laid back. I'll give it another quick looksie as I'm leaving town today. I was really hoping to have picked up a postcard and have it posted while up here.

Time to check out and head out. More pics from my trip next time....

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.