Kozue at Midnight

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I wanted to make a simple wrap, because despite my attraction to lace shawls, particularly the triangular variety, I find they don’t suit me or my current lifestyle. In my ordinary suburban life, I am not going to be wandering the moors, and if I were to, I’d want something more substantial than a shawl, but especially, I have two young children to keep up with, so I don’t have time for something that keeps slipping off my shoulders. I’m finding the rectangular style works best for me, as it can fit under my coat or, as is more often the case, it can be wrapped around my neck as a scarf.

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Kozue fits the bill, and I had some Jagger Spun in Ebony leftover from something that never came to be back in 1997, and they seemed like a perfect match. However, I messed-up (a common theme throughout the whole project, I’m afraid) early on, and realized that I would not have enough of the black to make a decent-sized Kozue, and I just kept going on as I pondered the futility of knitting something laceweight in stockinette stitch that may very well end-up as a blanket for my 3-year old daughter’s stuffed animals. Just kept knitting Kozue, but all the while trying to decide what to do. Clearly, finding anymore of the same dye lot was an absurd concept given two limitations: a) I bought the yarn in 1997, and b) I didn’t have the dye lot info., anyway. I went to Weaving Works in Seattle and looked at all the colorways in stock, and settled on Claret, a beautiful rich deep, deep pink, and added it on at one end of the wrap. Then I picked-up and started knitting it onto the other end, and that’s when it hit me: I was knitting a 1980s version of Kozue (you can see a photo of it in the previous post). The music from Psycho filled my head, you know that kind of shrieking music used in that movie, mixed with all the greatest hits from the ’80s. I was mortified. I didn’t even bother ripping it out, I cut the Claret off. Returned to Weaving Works, and this time settled for Indigo, a very muted blue, and definitely not to be confused with the cobalt blue of the ’80s. I was relieved that Indigo did the trick and I like the way the wrap turned-out, even if it is not the way I’d originally intended.

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I added a band of Indigo to end of the shawl, and then cut off some of the beginning, picked-up stitches, and added Indigo, followed by the remainder of the black. Then, to cover the fact that adding a contrasting color was due to a mistake, I cut into a spot off-center of the middle of the piece, added Indigo there, followed by a few thin rows of black, followed by more Indigo, and then grafted it to the other half of the piece. Yes, it was a lot of work, but I kept telling myself that it would all work out fine, and it did. In fact, I think it’s my new everyday, go-to wrap.

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Details
Pattern: Kozue by Kirsten Johnstone
Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18 (Cone) in Ebony and Indigo
Needles: US 5 (3.75mm)

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An Excellent Adventure

What a crazy few weeks it’s been. Where to start?

When I last posted, it was almost the end of August and Alex and I and the kids were off to the ocean for our summer vacation. Fast forward a few days with a rushed drive home from the ocean culminating in an emergency appendectomy (husband), in which we drove all the way back from our ocean trip straight to an hospital ER door. Follow that up with a last-minute, unplanned change of schools for our 7-year old (more on that some other time). Next was my trip to Los Angeles for Vogue Knitting LIVE! 2011 (more on that later, also). After that, I was home for 4 days before my husband and I flew to San Jose for a tour of the Tesla factory. Sometimes it’s just easier starting with the most recent thing first, so I’ll focus on the San Jose trip today, as well as some knitting..

So, Alex and I left the fall gloom of Seattle and landed in San Jose on a hot, sunny day—the sun felt so good. On our way to the hotel we happened upon a Japanese neighborhood festival and grabbed lunch. We had a hearty meal at Gombei.

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I had broiled mackerel—amazingly moist and buttery—with a side of cool tofu with green onion and bonito flakes, and Alex had soba noodles on a bed of ice cubes, which we found pleasantly refreshing on a hot day.

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Before we left the festival, I bought a beautiful pair of Big Sur blue jade earrings.

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Later that day, we left for the Tesla factory.

What is Tesla? I can’t possibly get all the facts right, but it’s a car company founded by Elon Musk, and is on the verge of changing the way we think about electric cars. Gone are the images of little puttering electric cars that drive about as fast as a golf cart and have a range that takes you not much further than the confines of your city.

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The sedan Tesla, Model S, will seat 7 people, will be completely electric, have enough charge to go up to 300 miles, and will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds. The current Tesla car, the Roadster, is a two-seat model, has a range of 245 miles, and accelerates 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.

20111013-171627.jpgElon Musk, addressing the crowd.

It was quite an event, and we were there with a couple thousand future Model S owners for the tour and a ride in the Model S. The final version of the Model S has not been made yet and will not be available until 12 months from now, so we rode in a beta model. The test ride was fast, and demonstrated it maneuverability, low center of gravity (due to the lithium batteries on the bottom of the chassis), and responsive acceleration by taking it up to 70 in a short closed track. It was fun.

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Knitting. I been using-up my stash of Zephyr 2/18 in black, making Kozue, and I thought I’d have enough for it, but I don’t. Having bought the yarn about 10 years ago, I couldn’t possibly match dye lots, so I bought some in a different shade, Claret. I decided that it would be best to add bands of Claret in various placed throughout the shawl. I’ve put a sizable band near the end of it, and now I’ll add a thinner band to the beginning by cutting into the earlier rows and picking-up stitches. Why do I always have to do things the hard way?

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I’m trying to roll with the fact that final Kozue isn’t going to look the way I’d hoped it would, and find that inner easy-going me that never was, and love the new look.

In The Black

Just to prove I am knitting, here’s photo of my newest work-in-progress, Kozue by Kristen Johnstone.

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It’s a super easy pattern and, other than a few rows of stitch pattern, it’s all stockinette. Nothing wrong with that, especially since it seems to fit my lifestyle these days. I would like to do something more challenging, but I just don’t have the time nor the concentration these days. Embrace the stockinette stitch, it is your friend, busy mom of two little people in the dog days of summer. Busy Mom. Busy, busy, busy.

Things I’ve been up to….
July was about summer camps for my son, though it’s up for debate whether he appreciated them and, truth be told, driving him hither and yon everyday just about did me in (thankfully, little sister had only one camp this summer). Upon remarking on just how busy we were, someone told me that this was just the way it’s going to be from here on. I maintain that not in my world will my children be so hyper-scheduled again, not if I can help it. Though I had a prescient moment back in June during the last week before the end of the school year indicating that I was in for a busy summer when I overheard another mom at a school event gripe that in a week her ability to accomplish anything would end until September. Wow. She was not kidding.

Pennsylvania sister-in-law and her daughter was in town for the first half of summer.

Cousin from France and her husband stopped by for a first visit. I’ve found that having small children in the family are a great lure for distant, long lost family members.

We made a family trip to see Thomas the Tank Engine at the train museum in Snoqualmie. The kids had a great time, of course, but my son enjoyed it more than he did three in 2008, and this was partly because with his sister along he had someone to enjoy it with. As a matter of fact, our 2008 trip was not very memorable, and thankfully this one was.

There were birthday parties, mine and my daughter’s (3!). Here are some pics from my birthday dinner at Mistral Kitchen in Seattle.

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This was some sort of heirloom tomato salad with some basil puree underneath it. Heaven.

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This was a scallop with beets, and it too, was delicious.

Birthday gift from my man: an external keyboard for my iPad 2. Love. It. Flip the iPad over and the keyboard becomes a hard protective case. Love. It. Love my man for thinking of this for me.

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Friend from California (NoCal, to be specific) came to town, and with her visit I realized how much I wished she and her family would move back here, but there’s no chance of that, they’re smitten with NoCal. She and her hubby are old friends of Alex’s from high school, and of all his friends, I enjoy them the most.

And if I didn’t need more to do, I volunteered to head our somewhat embattled neighborhood landscape committee; people are really passionate about our community gardens around here. Of course, for some reason I’ve taken the job so seriously that I’m actually doing some of the labor myself, including transplanting shrubs, pruning plants in-between visits by our landscape service and personally shoveling a 150 cubic foot pile of wood chips left to sit and moulder for the past 12 months. Call me crazy.

Not that it’s been all bad, because with August I’ve really enjoyed not rushing out the door every morning now that camps are done, and taking the kids to some fun stuff has been a blast. Although I could do without another trip to the zoo for the rest of my life. It’s a great zoo, don’t get me wrong, but a zoo is no place for elephants, giraffes, hippos, lions, tigers and bears, and I really saw how unhappy these big animals are, even in a modern, “humane” zoo. The trips to the parks and play areas have been fun and it’s been fun watching the kids really develop a relationship and enjoy one another’s company. Soon we leave for a few short days at the ocean, and we’re looking forward to it. It’s our only vacation this year, since although our kids loved our spring trip to Kauai in 2010, our daughter proved to us that we should’ve waited longer before traveling in a plane, because she pretty much screamed in terror much of the flight to and from. But we have our sights set on 2012, just you wait.

Still, not much time for knitting or blogging, but this will change, I think, when my son goes into first grade this fall and my daughter starts preschool. And with September comes my very first knitting convention. Yes, I will be going to Vogue Knitting LIVE this September, so this should be interesting. I’ve already warned Alex, knitters don’t leave these events empty-handed; he beginning to have nightmares about how he and the kids will have to move out if I bring more yarn home…

Final pic: One of our resident frogs hanging-out on the front porch window box.

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Time flies…

Tomorrow’s my birthday, and I have accepted that I can no longer fool myself into thinking I’m still 25.  It just took me a good portion of my life to come to that realization.  Tonight I got a call from an old friend in Minnesota to wish me an happy birthday, and neither of us could believe how time has flown.

Speaking of “flown”, time has really flown since my last post and it seemed like it was time…

I finished Saroyan (which I never posted about previously). Fun shawl and I love the way it just flew along, but then how can it not go fast when using worsted-weight yarn on US 10 needles? I used Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage, which was leftover from my stupid attempt to use it for Jacob’s Delight, but which turned-out to be too lightweight for the project. I have a lot of yarn to use from that mistake.

Details
Pattern: Saroyan by Liz Abinante
Yarn:
Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage (100% machine-washable merino) in Tern
Needles: US 10/6.0 mm

Modifications: I made an additional repeat of the pattern stitch on each end, adding an additional 6″ to the overall length while making it few inches wider at the same time.

Maybe it’s a sign of getting older, but I’m starting to do some stuff I would never have done in my youth.  Like use the word “youth” in reference to my younger years… Then there was the day I recently drove past my childhood home, ogling it, and took-up the current owners’ on-the-spot offer for me to come in and see how they’d renovated it.   It is fantastic what they did to that fabulous 1919 craftsmen style home.  The first thing I said when I walked in the front door was, “Wow!  You got rid of that awful ’70s shag rug my mom and step-dad put down in 1971!”  And there was, “Oh!  You took down those stupid white-washed floor-to-ceiling boards we’d put over the mantle to ‘modernize’ the living-room! Thank you!”  You cannot imagine what my parents were thinking back then in 1971 when they destroyed some of the good bones of that house and “updated” it; I couldn’t.  I was 11 and I kept asking them, “But why are you hiding the mantle?  I like it.  Why are you knocking-out that wall?  But, why are you taking out the French doors?!”

In front of the house in 1978. Chocolate Easter pig in hand.

These people, who bought the house from my mother years later, thankfully restored most everything we’d done and took it to the glory of its era.  The only thing we did right, was the exterior paint scheme (New England barn red with deep forest green trim), which my mom chose, and which remains on the house today.

Today, sans chocolate pig.

I thanked them for the tour and for not tearing down the house and for not changing the original structure in any way that would detract from it’s design.  It is beautiful.  You should have been there.

On a foodie note,  I went into Bellevue Uwajimaya shopping for the ingredients for my family’s Sunday night favorite, Hot-pot with Chinese Barbeque Sauce and was shocked to find someone actually making fresh takoyaki.  I decided that such a rare find around here was worth going-off my gluten-free diet, so I took my order home and didn’t share it with anyone.  Not a soul. It was delicious.

Before I left with my takoyaki order, I grilled the guy making it, who told me he is going to different locations in the area to introduce people to takoyaki and, hopefully, open a takoyaki place someday.  I made my argument for takoyaki in Seattle, telling him that with the popularity of sushi in the Seattle area, people are ready for takoyaki and okonomiyaki and that the time had come to make them available.   If you are interested in finding out about where Shin and his team will making takoyaki next, please visit Tako Kyuuban for more information.

Hear that cracking sound?

That was the sound of my Western Washington amphibian-like skin cracking in the heat of the southern California sun over the weekend. Ahh, that felt nice….

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I’m back home today, but I was in LA for an extended weekend for a cousin’s wedding. I felt sorry for the souls I’d left behind back home, drowning in the cool, wet, soggy weather of the Pacific Northwest. Not really.

The newlyweds had a photo booth at the reception for guests to use as a memory book of their big day. Great idea.
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My mom was my traveling companion.

We met-up with Fluffbuff Francesca at Le Pain Quotidien in Manhattan Beach, and Ben was there too. I got to drool over Francesca’s latest swatch, done on really tiny needles. I wonder what my mother thinks of my curious life as a knit-blogger?

Of course, while there, I loaded-up on Le Pain’s answer to Nutella to take home.
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I did almost no knitting the entire trip, save for the continuing, long, drawn-out process of binding-off Bird’s Eye of domesticshorthair lore (I started it 4 years ago), and that was only worked on in flight, coming and going. If it weren’t for my visit with Francesca, I could have said that I did nothing knitting-related; I didn’t visit a yarn store, I didn’t fondle a random skein of yarn, and I didn’t even buy a Japanese knitting book at Sanseido Books during a stop at Mitsuwa in Torrance. However, I did finish Wandering The Moor before I left home.
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(sorry for the bad, away-from-home photo)

I like it, and I love the un-scalloped edge for being different. When I finished it, I thought I’d messed-up because it was so small, it looked like something for my 6-year old, but once I blocked it, it opened-up and became adult-size.

Details
Pattern: Wandering the Moor Shawl by Celeste Glassel
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine (just over a skein)
Needles: US 6/4.0 mm

Today I actually had really really good answer for a change when a cashier at the market asked me if I did anything fun over the weekend.
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My knitting world is shrinking.

I was recently surprised when I opened my email to find a message from Hilltop Yarn East announcing the closing of its doors on June 27.  With the closing of this store, the only dedicated Eastside yarn stores I know of are Cultured Purls in Issaquah (which oddly doesn’t show up on Google Maps on my iPhone) and Main Street Yarn in Mill Creek.  Of course, there are still craft stores in the area with sizable yarn departments, most notably Ben Franklin Crafts & Frames in Redmond and Pacific Fabric & Crafts in Bellevue. On the other hand, with the demise of numerous knitting-related blogs over the past year, I’m beginning to think that perhaps the crazy phenomenon of the explosion of new knitters and interest in things knitting-related over the past decade is winding down, and that maybe it was a fantastic fad.  I rather cringe to call my beloved hobby of 25 years a fad, but it’s been a great ride. I’m here, though, still actively knitting, perusing Ravelry, salivating over the latest and greatest patterns, and blogging to a silent blogosphere.

On that point, let’s look at my latest finished project —

Frost Diamonds was a nice project, and it went pretty quickly, but then with worsted yarn it should be quick. Right?

The pattern went along well, with only a couple of confusing mess-ups.

I think I should have done three repeats of Chart B, because with the weight of the yarn, it almost seems to need to be a bigger shawl.  I have enough yarn, but not enough motivation, and will leave it alone.

I know I’ve made a lot of purple stuff, but this really isn’t purple, it’s a deep burgundy. Which I guess is kind of a purple….

Details
Pattern Frost Diamonds, by Stephanie Japel
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, “Gothic Rose” colorway
Needles: 6.5 mm/U.S. 10.5

That’s Much Better

It’s been almost a month since I last posted anything and I thought I’d check in and say something.  I didn’t go anywhere; I just didn’t post.  Maybe I’m following the growing trend to not blog so much.  Hard to say.  I would love to say that my absence from blogging was due to competing in the 2010 Winter Olympics, which, by the way, took place just a mere 200 miles to the north, and which has been a almost a life long dream of mine to go to, but which will have to wait for a more convenient time in my life.  If I were to do such a thing, I’d compete in Ladies Figure Skating (something I once aspired to do after watching Pegging Fleming in the 1968 Olympics on TV as a child), or Short Track Speed Skating, or Slalom, or Curling.  If not Olympic competition, I’d love to say that I went someplace marvelous and vastly different from where I live for some sort of exotic vacation.  No, I was just home, nose to the grindstone, knitting and taking care of my family.

During my absence I re-knit Andrea’s Shawl and customized an Anthropologie sale purchase.  First, Andrea’s Shawl Redux.  The remake went along quite well, and after I’d completed the edging (see post entry of Feb. 9) with the leftover purple Mink Yarn, I decided to put aside doubts and hesitation and frog the first shawl and continue on.  Mink Yarn is lovely stuff, and it seems rather unassuming at first, but as you work with it, it gets softer and fuzzier.  The flip-side is that it’s delicate and gets knotted when fiddled with a bit and the knots inevitably lead to breaks.  So there were lots of breaks in Mink Yarn during the making of Redux, and so lots of ends to weave in.  But Redux worked-out great and now I have a bigger shawl and I just love it.  I want more Mink Yarn, too, but I am still determined to work through my stash as much as possible.

The other yarn I used was Michell & CIA Indiecita 3-ply Alpaca in brown.  All the details for Redux are the same as for the original Andrea (see my post for Jan. 28), just that I made the large instead of the medium this time.  With such light yarn, it still fits nicely under a coat or sweater.

One other difference, is that I ran just shy of enough Mink Yarn to finish Redux.  In fact, I had just 6 inches (15 cm.) left of top edging for the shawl to be finished when I ran out of Mink, so I ripped-out the top edging and used the Indiecita instead.  I’m fine with it.  I’m just glad the top edging doesn’t curl like it did in the first one.

Now with my Anthropologie sale purchase.  I forgot the original price of this sweater coat, but I think it was $138, and I bought off the sale rack for $29.95, figuring that at that price for 100% wool it had potential for me.  I don’t know what is with the design of it, but it had this wool felt accordion-like thing wrapped around it’s midsection like a bad dream or something out of a science fiction movie.  I’m sure it looks great on someone, but I don’t need extra attention to my midsection. You know?

It used to have a belt and that was missing at the store, but I can’t imagine that it did much good.

So I carefully took my seam ripper to it and, oops, made a couple of holes for which I knotted the ends together, and, ta-da! A cool-looking sweater coat.

It had no buttons or buttonholes, and I like a little closure.

So I found a nice clasp at Button Drawer (“no minimum order”) and the rest is history.

What else I’ve got going on is that I went for a CT scan to check if I am in the clear on my thyroid cancer (from back in 1997), and I found that I am.  Great!  And then the doctor found some other stuff my body’s been up to that isn’t ideal: both kidneys are in bad shape.  Who knows why?  But I guess we’re going to find out.  Definitely not news that cheers me up, but maybe it won’t be so bad, I’ve heard that the body can function pretty well on a small percentage of viable kidney.  I’ll be visiting with a nephrologist (kidney specialist) in April to see what this all means.