Friday, August 31, 2007

Adventures in Columbus


Last weekend I went to Columbus. Of course, the "official" reason for me going was for a work meeting on Monday, but I definetely got some maxin' and relaxin' done as well. Since we both wish we lived there, I thought I would share the relevant parts of my trip.
On Sunday morning, I went to Wildflower Cafe for brunch with Josh (not pictured). Delicious!

Josh got the grossest things on the menu, aka french toast and sausage (not pictured). After brunch, we went our separate ways and I decided to go to the Park of Roses.

I love going to that park. There are all sorts of picnic areas, and creek beds that you're not supposed to wade in (because of the sewage), and big gigantic fields where people bring their dogs to play frisbee. One of the best parts about that park is the walking/bike trails. Most of the trails in the city run through the park of roses. This part of the trail makes me feel like a ring wraith is about to come around the corner.

Bagginssssssssssss!!!!!!!! Except with pavement.
There is also this field where they just plant wildflowers and let it all go to town. I like walking through there because there's all kinds of birds. The birds didn't want their picture taken. I walked around here with my shoes off, and some guy with a dog laughed at me.

Whatever, guy.

So...obviously, in a park called the "park of roses," there are bound to be some roses, right? Well, the embarassing truth is, I didn't know where the helk the roses were. I've been to that park hundreds of times and wandered around on the bike trails, but I never figured it out. I had even been to a wedding in a gazebo IN the rose garden, but I still had no idea where it all was. (Hey! It's a big park, okay?) I decided that this was the weekend to figure it all out.

It turns out I was neglecting this huuuuuge part of the park. Like, a third of the park. And it's all right up next to the field house where the bathrooms are. (For future reference) You just kind of turn a corner and walk through a big clump of trees, and......presto! You are in this stately, neatly manicured formal rose garden. I walked around and just smelled and looked at the different kinds. There are roses named after Carey Grant and Elizabeth Taylor. I felt like the by-god queen of England.

Oh! And I found that gazebo I went to one time for that wedding. Which is good, because I was starting to think I'd made it all up or there was no rose garden really.

Besides roses, there were all these little gardens on the side full of other stuff. My favorite part was the herb garden. It was all split up into culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, fragrant herbs, etc.

Also, there was like a gazebo every 10 feet in there. My favorite one was this narrow, iron gazebo that was way up high, and you used a spiral staircase to get up there. It looked like if Edward Gorey had a gazebo, this would be it.

I'm sorry, that is SO not a good picture.

Anyway, here is the view from the gorey gazebo. I imagine that one out of three couples who get engaged do so at the top of this gazebo.

Why.....yes, Bradford, yes! A thousand times yes!!!!

So, that was my Sunday. After I got home, I started working on a sweater from Fitted Knits for my maw. Her birthday's coming up in....about a month, jesus christ!

This is a really bad picture, and I don't remember what the name of the sweater is, so moving on.....

I also decided I needed a "between projects" kind of big, over-arching project to work on. I mostly decided this because I'm tired of knitting cotton dishrags. I've decided to make the Lizard Ridge blanket from last year's fall Knitty. I love it! It's made out of Noro Kureyon, but you can just buy a skein at a time to make a square at a time. That's the plan, anyway.

I kind of like how it's all waffly before it's blocked.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing you in a month! Yaaaaay! This fall is going to be totally awesome, just wait and see.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Give me coffee or give me death


May I present to you the most blurry and frought-with-cats photography you have ever laid your eyes on? I finished my Backyard Leaves scarf!! Here is a close-up. A "detail" shot if you will.

Pre-blocking of course. I'm thinking that after I block, the leafy shape will be more distinct, as will the two halves of the scarf be the same size. Here I am wearing it:
I love it!! I just wish I'd finished it in time to wear it yesterday. The high was 68! Hello, fall.
Anyway, you might not think the above photographs were that technically difficult to take. Well, you'd be wrong! Just try and take a picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror with this monster attacking your camera cord and leaping into the shot.
By the way, do you see the giant band-aid on my hand? That morning, as I was leaving, I noticed Oscar with his head in my fruit bowl, gnawing away at a nectarine. I picked him up to put him on the floor, and I must have scared him or something, because he tore into my hand, and now I have stigmata-like gashes in my palm.

Even though he's a little more of a gentle giant, Fred wasn't behaving any better. The answer?
Pick him up and hold him for a second, aka cat torture.

Well, finishing my scarf has really kick-started my fall knitting revival. Admit it, everyone. We all lapse a little during the summer. For me, summer knitting includes a few cotton dishrags knit while sitting directly in front of a fan, drinking a cold cold beer. But those days are soon over for me! After weaving in the ends on my scarf last night, I started swatching for a new project....the puffed sleeve cardigan from fitted knits!! Hooray!!!!

I have been wanting to make this cardigan ever since I bought the book, but couldn't pick a yarn. I decided on the silk-wool yarn that Karida sent me. I love the yarn, and I love the pattern, so I'm hoping for the best here regardless of my giganto-gague. The pattern calls for size 6 needles, so of course I swatched using size 4's. The swatch still came out a little big, so I'm going down a size. Good thing I can try on the sweater as I knit it, so I'll be able to make adjustments as I go.
That's all I got for today. Your seams look amazing! I'm very impressed.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hey seams!


Dude. Seams. Who doesn't hate 'em? Freakin' everybody hates seams.

Those who know me in my knitting life are acquainted my 400 pound gorilla. She's red, tweedy, and cabled. She's lovely. Most importantly, she has been sitting in a plastic bag, a big hairy pile of disconnected pieces, for roughly 8 months. For 8 months, there has a big red tweed gorilla crouched next to the couch, slobbering on my neck as I stitch away on single piece projects. The Central Park Hoodie!

Oh man. As soon as the Fall '06 Knitscene came out, I knew I had to make this sweater. You know that feeling when you see a project and you get a little lurch of longing in your gut?

Maybe I am the only person who gets that feeling. Now that I say it out loud, it sounds sort of weird. But I sure had it, and I acted accordingly. I got me some Karabella Soft Tweed and I knitted that sucker right up. And then....ugh.

I did start the seaming. I did the grafting on the hood and the shoulders, but I'd never done grafting before and I thought it looked awful. I just couldn't bring myself to undo all the sweat and tears that were in those bumpy, ugly-ass seams, and then--Oh Holy God Almighty--reseam them. So progress halted. I realized during this period that years of avoiding seams at all costs--converting anything and everything into the round, downright abusing the three-needle bind off--had landed me in an ugly spot. I couldn't seam!!!

I didn't want to ask for help, because I was embarrassed: I worked in my LYS for 2 years, I have a knitting blog, I go to a knitting group every week, and I am a freaking knitting teacher for the love of God.

But, you know, I finally took the sweater to KPH, and I asked my friends for help. And they told me that my grafting was just right except for one or two spots which I could fix pretty easily. (The gorilla lost about 200 lbs at that moment.)

Then Jess sat down with me and showed me a super cool trick, which is way simple and takes much of the horror out of set-in sleeves. Watch!

You take the very bottom corner of the cap of the sleeve, and you match it on up to the bottom of the arm hole. Match up the two corner stitches as though you were about to seam them together, and then tie those stitches together with some scrap yarn. Do it again in the very middle, tying the center stitch of the sleeve cap up with the shoulder seam. Do it again at the other corner! Then do it in the middle, between the shoulder cap and the corner! Do it over and over!

And then when you finally get around to seaming, you will have a nice bookmark every inch or so to make sure you are on track. (This means you are able to correct a mistake well before you end up with an extra inch of fabric at the end of a seam, i.e. a big clump you will later try to hide in the armpit.)

So I seamed, starting at the shoulder seam and going down one side, then the other, just like Jess said. And it worked! Voila! A by-god set in sleeve. Thanks Jess!

Hooray! So the moral of the story is, I made a mistake that I am always telling people in my classes to avoid, which is to assume I was doing something wrong, and to avoid a technique because I was sure I would screw it up. In the end it was super easy and I did just fine once I sucked it up and asked for help. Hey seams, you ain't so bad, but you're sure misunderstood.

In other news, I went to the farmer's market yesterday, and there I found beautiful things. I bought them and put them in bowls.

Then I tried to photograph one of the bowls, and this happened:

I was wishing you were here this morning--it is the kind of day where, back on East Oakland, we would sit on the porch and drink coffee and knit together until about 1PM, when we would switch to white wine. Stupid ch-ch-changes!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007



I just opened the water bill at work, and inside was a flyer for Toledo. The headline is "Toledo: A Business Friendly City of the Future." Underneath, it has a bunch of awards and rankings from various magazines including:

Ranked a "Top 10 City of the Future in North America"
Awarded "100 Best Communities for Young People"
"Top Five Cities with the Best Tasting Drinking Water in America" (hence the flyer's apperance in my water bill?)
...and my personal favorite,
Ranked #1 "Most Business Friendly City in North America."

I wonder what magazines said all this. The "Please Don't Move out of Toledo Journal?" I would agree with none of these! Except the water one. I guess our water is pretty tasty. I mean, I hardly ever even use my Brita anymore. But City of the Future? I guess the future involves no money for infrastructure and roads falling apart and sewers backing up and strip malls everywhere.

Hmmm...sewers backing up...maybe I should use my Brita after all.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

That State Up North


I'm comin' at you live from my parent's new house in Alma, Michigan. Alma is a small town in mid-Michigan about an hour north of Lansing. My parents love the town. The church is huge and pretty awesome, and everyone seems to really like my dad as the minister. Also, even though it's small, it's a college town. It has a really cute little downtown section that reminds me of Oxford, with all these little independant businesses.

Here are my parents sitting by their POOL!!!!!!
They pretty much hate the house they're in now, pool nonwithstanding. All the rooms are small, it doesn't have central air, it's not well maintained, and as my mom puts it, the house just "isn't a good fit." I think that's Pam Brackbill-speech for "they have way too much stuff." Here's the living room, which is actually an addition on the back of the house.
Stuff piled against the wall! They're moving soon. Again. Here's the kitchen. I think the kitchen alone would make me not buy the house in the first place.

The basement has an old Kelvinator fridge built right into the wall. Pretty sweet. Again, my parents have a lot of stuff.

As I was sitting on the couch, watching Air Force One and knitting away at my scarf, my mom pulled out a box and gave it to me. Inside was a set of woven placemats:

Apparently, shortly after I was born, my great grandmother in Texas made me those placemats on a loom at her church. Mom says she made something for every girl that was born into the family, so I guess these placemats are supposed to go in my hope chest. I think it's SO awesome to get stuff like this. My great grandmother died when I was about 3, so I barely remember her at all. But I still have something that she made with her own two hands.
(I don't really have a hope chest, by the way. How funny would that be?)
Ever since I learned how to knit, I can really appreciate all the various gifts I've gotten through the years from different family members. Of everyone, my grandmother is probably the most accomplished crafter: she does knitting, sewing, quilting, and cross stitch. If I hadn't learned how to knit, I don't think I could have really appreciated all the things she has made for me over the years. I really hope that someday I can make something that gets passed down through the generations. People will say, "Your great great aunt Karen made this blanket. If you look closely at the stitches, you can see the fur from cats long gone."
Awwww, here's a nice one. It's from before those pesky brothers came along.
My mom likes to tell the story of how I cried when I had to give that bear back to the photographer.
Later Gator,

a major award


Hey, we got tagged! Karida thinks we are rockin.

Now we have to decide who we're going to tag. We will have to deliberate.

P.S. Below is a single-shot representation of how hot it is. Please ignore how dirty my floor is.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A Tropical Heat Wave

I have been dim and listless for the last couple of weeks. I have not been feeling quite right. And most unusually, I have been trying to make excuses for it. I've been attributing it to, of all things, the heat. Right. The heat is getting me down. I'm not the kind of person who enjoys sitting in the greenhouse in July. I am not the sort of girl who would, for example, get heat exhaustion from laying on her roof during peak sun hours on the hottest day of the year, because she didn't want to go inside. Suuuuuuuuuuuuure, ten thousand dollars.*

So today I was talking to Karida, and she said, "you know, you're allowed to just be sad."

As it turns out, sometimes you need someone to point out the obvious. Thanks, dude.

So, anyway, between the listlessness, the working, the home improvement and the HP rereading, the knitting has been a little thin on the ground. Fortunately, my cousin and his wife are going to have a baby!!! They are great. They are named Aaron and Erin. I hope they name the baby A-Ron. Just for little A-Ron, I am making the Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I've been making incremental progress. I know, it is supposed to be one of those projects that you finish in 2 days. Go to hell, I am listless. Here it is, though. Half of it, anyway.

It is pretty cool because it looks like a big weird geometry lesson when you're knitting it.

But you just trust the pattern, and fold that sucker over, and it becomes a little cozy kimono. Peaches and Creme cotton in green apple, of course. And only 2 little baby-sized seams to sew!

Here is what is fast becoming my signature shot: Honey trying to get his close up. Honest-to-god, I am not trying to photograph him, he just does this whenever I get the camera out.
OH! I forgot. New bookshelf:

Handsome, yes? That is only half of it. The bottom half is very similar. Of course, the old bookshelf is still holding her own:

Wow, that post was really sporadic and nonlinear, and I sort of have no idea how to wrap up.


*For those of you who do not know the inside jokes of my family, "Suuuuuuuuuure, ten thousand dollars" is what my dad says when someone is full of crap. It dates back to a time when my cousin was about 12 and he kept saying his computer cost $10,000. I don't know. These things get funnier as time passes.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A knitting post? Whaaaaa?


I'm SO impressed with your organizational prowess! I can't wait to see your apartment when I come out there. My yarn, in contrast, is stored in various Kroger bags in various locations throughout the apartment. I'm sure I will get to it someday.

Oscar has found a new favorite food:

That's right, watermelon. How weird is my cat?

I also wanted to show you what Karida sent me...
So exciting! It's a silk-wool blend, and it's the softest thing ever. I'm still deciding what to do with the solid green; I have about 800 yards. There are also 2 skeins of a more olivey, variegated green:

As you can see, I've started a scarf for myself with it. I'm making the "Backyard Leaves" scarf from Scarf Style. Confession time: this is the first time I've knit from a chart before. It took a little while to get used to...but now I'm flying through this scarf. Here is a closeup:

Awesome town! I'm totally keeping it, too. It'll be nice to have a new scarf for myself while I'm knitting everyone else's Christmas and birthday presents this fall.
That's all I got for now. I had a relaxing weekend at home...I mostly cleaned and knit a lot. It's nice not to be travelling every weekend in a row. But at the same time, I'm looking forward to spending Labor Day weekend in Columbus, and going to D.C. at the end of September. Party town, USA!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Organize, Organize, Organize

Well, now that I am back in town and working a new job, it is time to get organized.

Where to start? Yarn. Honey likes to help.

That nasty clawed up chair next to the Funnyguy up there? Gone! G'byeeeee! Those jerks will have to use the by-god scratching post from here on out.

Stew pot full of yarn, basket full of yarn, and pile of yarn became Tubs O' Yarn. Awesome. My little "area" next to the couch is so tidy now! A nice basket for my works in progress and a purple box for my more long-term projects. It is a tremendous improvement.

Also, I have purchased a new bookshelf (see you in hell, random stacks of books!). I outgrew my big blue shelf. Ellie, the organization guru, thinks you should get rid of books after you read them. Though I bow to her superior knowledge of organizing, she knows nothing of the hearts of bookworms. In this house, we like to cozy up with the written word, thusly:

OK. This reorganization is going to make the living room much more open, airy, and pleasant. It'll probably make the cats shed less too, and maybe it will hire a maid. At the very least it will mean a little more breathing room, plus no more shifting stacks of books around. I mean, yeah. It will do all those things, provided I get the hell off the internet and actually DO it.

Do it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Some jerk had a birthday.

Hi guys,

Here are the promised pictures from Christopher's birthday party! Here's the birthday boy himself. 21 at last! (He's having his first wine) At this point I was kind of half in the bag already, and I kept calling him "Jack Kerouac."

Things started out innocently enough, with horseplay and drinks in the pool. This is Libby, Libby's cousin Bryce, me, and Tyler.
Bruce lookin' mighty patriotic. Look at all those trees!

Christopher's dad Dave paid some special attention to Matt. Later, Dave picked Matt up after he had dried off and gotten dressed, and threw him bodily into the pool. It was pretty hi-larious, but Matt's cell phone was kind of ruined.
As the night wore on, we continued with our drunken night swimming. At some point, a baby crapped in the pool, and even though it was cleaned out (probably), every time someone fell down, they would yell, "I slipped in shit!" I know it's not funny to you guys, but it was the kind of thing that grew funnier with repetition.

I can only assume this is Barb making one of her signature "blends."
Awww, so cute.

FInally, this picture was taken in the wee hours of the morning. Katie (far left) and Emily had tried to go to the Farm, the local bar, but had almost gotten into a fight because someone insulted Katie's head scarf. Libby is screaming at the paper lady at the end of the driveway that she "can't litter on my parent' s house!" I'm pretty sure I am catatonic at this point.

SO there you have it. I know all these picture were taken 2 and a half weeks ago, but wasn't the wait worth it? Here's another shot of the birthday boy. (yes, that's the baby who crapped in the pool)
Don't worry, we'll get back to current events sometime!
Love, Braxerson