October 2006 Archives

Shivered More outside the Haunted Ranch

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It is Halloween and the neighborhood dogs are barking, possibly at Trick-Or-Treaters. Reminiscent of our early childhood, my cousin Ted invited me and my much younger cousins out for Halloween to the Haunted Conover Ranch and Corn Maze along with a few of his friends. I believe the last time the cousins spent Halloween together was the year we "dressed up" in costumes. Their costumes were fantastic - Robin Hood and Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Mine, I can not remember.

As a terror movie weenie who runs between the back of the sofa and the bathroom in avoidance, I had first thought that I couldn't handle a Haunted House experience. Then some internal dialog and reasoning said that I should go and try something new. Besides, if I scream like a girl, I am a girl.

First, we navigated the Corn Maze and filled out 20+ clues in the harsh evening cold snap. Lesson One: Being in farmland in the middle of the night is cold and no amount of fast walking (running is against the rules) really warms you up "right toasty". By the time we finished that, we were ready to file into the haunted ranch portion.

Lesson Two: Being kept waiting in a tense atmosphere for long periods of time doesn't actually increase anxiety. In fact, if you were anxious going in, by the end of the wait to enter "the haunt", you'll have gotten over most of your jitters.

The staging area was well done and the scariest character (for me) was a tall raincoat wearing cowboy who scraped two sharp "machetes" and make the metal "shriiiiick" like horror movie sound effects. He also reminded me of a old friend who normally dresses in cowboy gear with a duster, cowboy hat, and boots; he also has been known to covet pokey things that look dangerous. (Hi Sean!) The scariest thing in the line were the teenage girls behind us who didn't get that singing "99 bottles of beer on the wall" actually involving decreasing the bottles of beer. And they liked to surge forward in elation and fear.

Lesson Three: Being stalked by an abruptly screaming Harajuku Girl Gothic Lolita is disturbing. It takes insight to add scary teenage girls native to Japan to a haunted ranch.

Lesson Four: Successfully launching a pumpkin from a slingshot is harder than it looks. Small Pumpkins are better. A trebuchet (with sling) or catapult might be more efficient than an oversized slingshot.

Lesson Five: It really is more fun to spend Halloween with others.

Hope your Halloween is full of fun!

P.S. Ted and I wore our headlamps, marching through the corn maze. We only got positive remarks about what a great idea that was.

Edited to Add:
P.P.S. You candy snatchers that took an entire basket of candy. You Stink. Little kids were greeted with an empty basket of candy because of you. It is not cool.

Spotting Good Cashmere

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If you're going to fork over a chunk of your yarn money for cashmere, how do you know if it good cashmere? In fact how do you know if it has any cashmere ?

You look to an expert who produces cashmere garments for reputable designers like Scottish Simply Cashmere and read Cashmere Truths

Arthur Rennie of Simply Cashmere gives valuable advice like:
NOTE that a well-made cashmere product should feel soft and this should get better and softer as the piece is worn and washed. If it is too soft in the shop, it will pill and deteriorate rapidly. A good indication is to hold the cashmere piece up at eye level and look along the top surface. There should be a fuzziness above the fabric. If it is around 1mm then it should be fine - anymore and it will pill with minimal use.

So good to know! Life is too short to knit bad yarn.

A small Sock Breather

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While working the long stockinette pieces of Honorine and trying to fudge the gauge with hemp yarn (I refuse to admit defeat yet), I did my sock patriotism for Socktober. Besides, Cookie the Sock Temptress gave me the knee high sock bug. Yes. Knee Highs.


This is the beginning of some cute sock(s) Cookie's blog pointed me toward. Literally, Södera = söde (cute) + era (tribute to Hedera). I purchased one ball of Rowan Cashsoft 4ply from Purlescence and while I'm knitting a bit tighter than gauge, the sock is a bit big. Ah no matter, the sock is my cheating project and is mostly for fun. I'm taking this project as it comes and saving my deadline knitting for Honorine.

Now my biggest knit question is if I can achieve gauge in the lace pattern by using a 3mm needle on DK weight hemp...

Yay, Firefox 2.0!

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{Firefox 2.0 on my MacBook}

Firefox 2.0 is released! and even though a bunch of my extensions aren't compatible, yet, the yummy new features like improved tab browsing, session restore, and inline spell check replace a bunch of the extensions that did the same thing.

It is shiny and staying off my Windows development system until the forum and and Bugzilla indicate that it really really works and won't suck up all my memory.

Thanks for all the wonderful work, Folks in the "Firefox > About Mozilla Firefox > Credits" list ( "Help > About Mozilla Firefox > Credits" on Windows ). The Firefox Team Rocks. Spellcheck, better tabs, session restore Built-in. Yay!

Those of you looking for pictures of yarn, they're coming. The sweater has progressed beyond the sleeves and I'm currently trying to convince the Hemp to "embody the lace" at the correct gauge.

Those of you wondering what's so fantastic about firefox's new release (or software in general)... I web g33k. Go ahead and try it for yourself. If you usually have more than three windows open, you'll be glad of the tabs ( new tab = ctrl+t ) that keeps your browser nicely organized. You can even reorganize tab order by dragging and dropping a tab to the right slot. And inline spekk check? Firefox is underlining the incorrectly spelled spell check, right clicking spekk shows their suggestions: speak and speck (I'm sure it will get better at spotting finger barfs). Fantastic since Movable Type doesn't have a spell check feature like Gmail.

And oh, it is pretty.

Interweave Winter 2006 Preview

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Interweave Knits has posted the Winter 2006 issue preview and here are a few of my favorites:


The Provincial Waistcoat, being a vest, has no sleeves (yay!) and has cables for added interest. It calls for Karabella Super Yak which is a Bulky weight yarn. I'll probably sub it for bulky alpaca (there's a sea green I have my eyes on) and be right toasty!

The purple Equestrian Blazer has some lovely rolled edging and would look great with a raglan sleeve modification. Is it just me or do handknit sweaters tend to look baggy under the armpits?

Rambling Rose Cardigan with lace detailing shows the purl side as the "public side". I've been meaning to knit up a few girly items to soften up my wardrobe and this is very cute. Rowan CashSoft would be a fantastic alternative yarn for this intricate top (yay for machine wash, bountiful availability, and more consistent non-handpaint dye lots!)

A Cardigan for Arwen - well just call me Arwen. This reminds me of Rogue but a bit less intricate and possibly a quicker knit.

There's so many cute patterns in this issue, I know I better ask for yarn money for Christmas. My stash is going to bulge!

Almost to the Lace! Help me Choose

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The sleeves are slowly being finished and I'm on the lookout for some complementary yarn for the lace inset shown here:


{ Image borrowed from Magknits-Honorine }

After walking about the store for a good half hour with my in-progress sleeves, I've picked a few I think might work out with this "Harry Potter Maroon". Try to imagine them as lace by crossing your eyes and mentally drawing some holes in the sample yarns (this is my "imagine this knit-up in lace" face, not my "this smells bad" face).



Which pairing do you like?

Magknit-ficent - Odessa

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What? I still knit?

Heck Yeah.


Here's my friend Robin modeling a modified Odessa hat (Pattern by Grumperina) in honor of her two and a half month trip to New Zealand. She'll be wandering all over New Zealand and even though it is Spring over there, I thought she could use a head covering while scouting for birds. (She birds, I knit.) Also, I like to think that if a bird poops on her head, well, the hat is also machine washable since the yarn is Cherry Tree Hill Superworsted, colorway Moody Blues. So I guess I made a poop shield as well as a head warmer. (Oy, the search engine stats will be wonked out by that sentence)

Here I am wearing the hat before it was blocked, somewhat blurry in my bathroom mirror in the middle of the night.


While blocking, I noticed my water was consistently bleeding blue so I threw it into the washer on gentle. Um, well, yarns sometimes bleed color, so I'm glad I washed the hat before Robin wore it, "glowed", and found herself with a blue forehead.

Modifications: I had some leftover worsted weight yarn and not a lot of time to make her a hat, so I adjusted the gauge of Odessa to fit a worsted weight yarn by casting on fewer stitches. The pattern repeat is 10 sts, so just go down to whatever you think would be good. I rather like this pattern and yarn for a man's hat, too, so I'd probably cast on 90 to 100 for a man's Odessa, sans beads.

Shoulda-Will-Next-Time: The crown of the hat is too small for tall Robin and I'd knit 6 inches or even a little more before starting decreases. Also, the side slanting swirl might look cute with a cable pattern, so I'll be keeping my eye out for a left slanting cable.

Also on the needles is the Honorine sweater, another great pattern published by Magknits and designed by local designer Fathom Harvill aka Emily. The yarn is shop yarn in Pure. Alas, despite the sweater being a good bit of knitting, the never ending sleeves (bracelet length? Haha. I should have knit the short sleeves 'cause it'd be done!) aren't very good blog fodder. Neither are the four body pieces. In fact, any of these pieces looks like a lovely gigantic swatch. In a pile, they look like a pile of big swatches. As one who likes to eat her favorite foods last, I've also put the lace knitting at the end, so I have something to look forward to knitting before finishing. A review of South West Trading Co.'s Pure Yarn, 100% Soy Silk, will be posted when I finish this sweater.

Day in Monterey

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Exploring Pt. Lobos

(Click to Enlarge)

After an energetic day in Monterey, CA watching birds and eating yummy food, we quietly head home. Time slowed as the sunset slipped into twilight, bidding us farewell. Friends seldom together once again gently flutter apart to continue with everyday life.