Thursday, August 29, 2013

Good dog, Sophie

Sophie Patrick Lannan
Sept 1999-Aug 2013 
Zack and I had to let go of Sophie two weeks ago. It was a sad day, but like Zack pointed out, she hasn't been "Sophie" in months. The poor girl went totally blind earlier this spring and her hearing had deteriorated to the point where she could only hear high-pitched whistles. It was time.
For months, I had been hoping that she would drift off in her sleep and never wake up again, but the nights were getting more and more stressful for her and us. She would sleep a couple hours then wake up and pant and pace and get lost in the house. We worried about leaving her home alone for more than a couple hours at a time. The good days were outnumbered by the bad, so the decision was made to have her put down.
We made the ride to the vet's office as enjoyable as possible for her. All the windows were rolled down for easy access. Zack sat in the backseat with her and fed her mini Reece's peanut butter cups. Her favorite foods! Chocolate (which nearly killed her two years ago) and peanut butter. A pretty fitting last meal.
The whole process was very quiet and peaceful. Sophie is no longer confused and in pain. I like to think that she and Brownie are romping about in the creek, rolling around in the grass, napping in the sun, chasing birds and squirrels.
That's my bitty girl, Soph...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kauni 8/28/13

I'm not in love with the 2 color cast on, but I might be OK with it. I worry that the bind off on the sleeves and button band won't match. It's tough to get a cast on and bind off to look similar. Hmmm. However I am happy with the progress so far.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Kauni is on the needles

The plunge was taken and 266 stitches have been cast on for the Kauni cardigan!
I knit a small swatch and was able to get gauge, almost. (This sentence will probably come back to bite me.) When I say "almost", I mean that instead of getting EXACTLY 24 stitches to 4" in plain stockinette, I got 24 plus about a 1/4 of another stitch, so just a tiny bit off. BUT that was in plain knitting. When I knit with two colors my knitting draws up a little, and I'm hoping that will compensate for my lack of perfect gauge. However, according to nearly every blog I've read about this cardigan, I should plan to rip it out at least 2 times. If I'm going to rip, why strive for perfect gauge? This will be interesting.

Two color long tail cast on with two color 1x1 rib.

Friday, August 23, 2013

When all else fails...

...knit a tiny sock.

I had to knit something but I didn't want to think, swatch, or fuss with a pattern. So I knit a tiny sock to add to my collection of Tiny Christmas Stockings.

There really isn't a pattern, I just knit them. I cast on 24, divide onto 4 needles. Sometimes I do 1x1 rib, sometimes not. I knit for a while then use 12 stitches for the heel flap. I knit 6 rows for the flap then turn the heel, which is probably the most complicated part. I think I knit (or purl depending on where I am with the heel flap) seven stitches, then K2tog or P2tog (again, depending) then turn, go back until there are 5 sts then P2tog (or K2tog) and do this until the stitches are used up. I typically have 4 stitches remaining. I pick up 4 or 5 along the gusset (if it's 5, I decrease 1 on each side so I'm back to 24 stitches), then I knit for a bit until it's time for the toe. Simple toe decrease until there are 8 stitches left, run the yarn through the stitches and pull the end of the yarn inside and tie it off. As far as needle size, it just depends on the weight of the yarn you're using. This was Koigu PPPM sock weight with a size 3 needle (I think). The cuff, heel and toe are in solid purple. The leg and instep are in verigated.
If you knit socks, this should make sense. If you don't knit socks, you should!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

About the planetarium

Last weekend Randy and I went to the Huntsville Hamfest in...well...Huntsville, Alabama. It's an annual thing. Last year was the first year I missed it because it was move in day at the dorms. At this year's 'fest I decided I would make up for that lost year. I took the exam for General class and PASSED it. This is a big deal in the ham radio world because I can now make international contacts. The license I had prior to General only allowed me limited access on a more local scale. Now I just need a new radio...

We were looking for something to do on Saturday night after our traditional dinner at Landry's Seafood Kitchen. I whipped out my still new smart phone and looked up "things to do in Huntsville AL". Topping the list was the Saturday night planetarium show at Monte Sano State Park. Stop the search engines! We have a plan!

Monte Sano is just plain cool. If someone told me I had to move to Huntsville, that's the area where I would live (because in this situation I would also be incredibly rich and could afford a house there.) The drive to the park was beautiful and we arrived at the observatory a few minutes before 7 when the doors were scheduled to be opened.

This observatory has been around a LONG time. It's pretty small and unassuming with no frills. As we walked in we were immediately surrounded with the smells and sounds of a grade school field trip. Awesome! The lighting was dim so I wasn't able to get any good photos. It was your typical, smallish planetarium. Domed roof with a couple rows of semi-reclined benches arranged around the big projector thing in the middle. Along the walls were a few display cabinets with models of planets, telescopes, and the sundry items one would expect to see in display cabinets at a planetarium.

We selected a seat on a bench in the second row, discussed the awesomeness of our good fortune at finding such a nerdgasmic way to spend a Saturday evening and waited for the show to begin. While we were waiting we couldn't help but overhear the older guys behind us talking about an ailing mother and her prescriptions. It sounded like they were leaning forward talking right into our ears. I looked about. Nope. No one behind us. Ok. So who's doing all the talking? Randy noticed that the lips of the guys directly across the room from us were moving in sync with the voices we were hearing. No way! They were all the way across the room. Yet we could hear them perfectly. Was there some freaky phenomenon with the acoustics in that domed room? Had they been sitting next to us we couldn't have heard them that clearly. Oh! No! Did they hear us talking about the supreme nerdiness of situation? The field trip smell? The comments about the other patrons? We glanced about, wide-eyed, to see if we could tell if anyone was listening to us and then ceased talking. We waited mutely for the show to start, afraid to speak.

Our hostess for the evening was a woman who taught astronomy to home school students and, from what we could gather by her demeanor, she taught quite enthusiastically. She was about 5'3", medium length gray hair, heavy bosom, and excited. We knew we were in for a treat! Before launching in to the program, she gave a brief history of the place, which I won't get into but it did include Werner Von Braun and his pals, along with a preview of upcoming shows. In September, they will be discussing planets. Planets very far away from the sun. She pointed to the display case and directed our attention to the furthest planet in the solar system, which is not Pluto, as she had pointed out moments before. 

So, I leaned as close to Randy as possible and in my quietest whisper said, "Oh my God, she's going to talk about Uranus."

And that's when things got out of control. I didn't mean for things to get out of control, but sometimes it can't be helped.

Randy lost it. I lost it. The more our hostess talked, the harder we laughed. The harder we laughed, the more we tried to keep it in. The more we tried to keep it in, the weirder the noises we were making. I had to lay down on the bench because I knew that the two guys across from us heard every word I said. Randy had his head down also, and I could feel him shaking with laughter. Between the two of us the whole bench was rocking. The three teenage girls sitting next to me kept giving me that look that only teenage girls can give. The hostess continued her passionate monologue. I prayed that she wouldn't say "Uranus", because if she did I would have to get up and leave. Which made me laugh even harder. And I knew that if I stood up to walk out, I'd pee. No doubt about it. By this time I was crying and wishing I could make myself invisible, wishing for super human bladder control. I tried breathing through my mouth, breathing through my nose, holding my breath (bad idea because I made this loud hiccup when I started breathing again.) I felt the shaking next to me subside a little so I sat back up right in the bench. I looked Randy. Another bad idea. We lost it again. This went on for about 10 minutes. The more I started feeling bad about being such a distraction, the funnier the situation got. We fought to compose ourselves and eventually got it back together. Until the show was over. And we were walking out the door. And I said, "Sorry about the Uranus comment."

Monday, August 12, 2013

I have my limits

Ok, you all know, or should know by now, I'm a big fan of fiber. As a matter of fact, I love fiber. Cotton, wool, alpaca, cashmere, silk, linen, bamboo, even a well-manufactured acrylic/wool blend. I'm open to just about anything and try my best to not discriminate when it comes to choosing a fiber for my next project. I'm an equal opportunity fiber kind of gal.

But this is a line I cannot cross. I will not cross. Ick.

Who sells "Gently Used Dog Hair/Fur"...and for $150?

Stew? That's just nasty.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Got my eye on you

Zack drew this last night. He was bored and had access to a box of Sharpie markers. He'd KILL me if he knew I posted it on my blog, but I think it's very well done. It looks like his eye. His eyes are hazel and they change color depending on what he's wearing, the lighting, etc., which I think is extra cool.

Friday, August 9, 2013

About waffles and needles

In a week my nest will be empty once again. The summer has flown by!

There isn't much back to school shopping that needs to be done. All the dorm stuff we bought last year will be used again this year, so Zack and his roommate are pretty much good to go. But he wants a waffle iron. (He makes killer waffles with protein shake mix and cocoa as a base.)

Waffle irons are pretty easy to come by, but I want one that has an auto-off feature. Zack has been known to lock his keys in the car...with the car running. Auto-off just makes sense. I headed to Amazon, clicked on an Oster model and scrolled down to read the reviews.

This "Frequently Bought Together" pairing is:
a. puzzling
b. disturbing
c. unnerving
d. all the above

Who buys waffle irons and crossbows? Together frequently? At the risk of sounding crazy, it's my opinion that the word "frequently" implies more than one occurrence, maybe even more than two.

Update on the Kauni Rainbow Cardigan!

Liana to the rescue!! She brought her Knitpicks interchangeable needles to lunch the other day so I could give them a test drive. I really liked the look of the acrylic needles, and that's the direction I was leaning...until I saw the needles with stitches on them. This may sound weird (and totally obvious) but you can see the backside of the stitches through the clear acrylic. That's just not right. I liked how they felt and the points were nice, but I couldn't get past that transparent thing. Creepy. Then I tried the laminated birch Sunstruck needles. Heaven on a cable! They are absolutely lovely. Good points, smooth wood, warm to the touch, light color that won't compete with the yarn.

I also checked out the Addi Bamboo circulars. Ick. I know to some knitters, Addi needles are the ultimate luxury. I have a couple sets of the turbos and they are nice. BUT they are darned expensive. Here's what I didn't like about the bamboo needles. Addi has embossed the needle size into the bamboo. The embossing is about a half-inch long. Sure, this is a good way to identify the needle size, however that embossed area breaks up the smoothness of the bamboo and make the stitches drag. I'm not paying $16 per set for something that will make me hate knitting. (Fingernails on a chalkboard!)

Yesterday I took the plunge and made the Knitpicks purchase. The Sunstruck needles, in varying sizes and cable lengths (along with a few extras so I could get free shipping), should be here early next week!