Saturday, May 25, 2013

Crochet Away

I was inspired by a recent essay by Franklin Habit asking why knitters and crocheters can't just get along. And genetically, my ancestors were more crocheters than knitters, most notably my great-great Aunt Gladys. Several online friends were branching out, too, so I thought I'd try my hand -- and wrist -- at it.

I took a class on making granny squares from my friend Staci a while back and i found crocheting came back to me rather quickly. I don't know that heavy cotton yarn was the best thing to knock the rust off with, but it was at hand. I tried a few different patterns, but settled in the Diagonal Dishcloth by Amanda Judkins. I like that it's done on the bias, so I could try increasing and decreasing.

I'm not sure I got the best combination of yarn and hook. It looks a bit open to me. And there are some obvious tension issues. But with help from Staci's crochet videos, and some input from Stephanie at Saturday morning, I got through it. It's a bit big, but it might make a good hot pad. This is basically just rows of single crochet, done on the bias into the backs of the stitches, with increases at the edges to the halfway point and then decreases back to the point.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Twisted Pair

After doing a little bit of yard work before it got too hot today, I settled in to watch some episodes of Independent Lens that had been waiting for me and knuckle down on the Spiegel Socks that I've been knitting forever. Before I knew it, I was done. I really wanted to finish these before the summer semester started. Mission accomplished.

They fit fine and I'm pretty happy with them. There is one modification I'd make we're I to attempt these again; I would have added an inch more ribbing on the cuff before starting the Bavarian stitch motif. It turns out I had enough yarn, but I followed the pattern because I was worried about running out. They could sit just a tad higher on the leg. There was also something I didn't think was right in the pattern in the large size. I'll write about that on the Ravelry project page.

I'm not sure what to tackle next. I'm still waiting for some yarn to come in so I can start that yoked sweater for my brother. I don't want to get too involved in something else should that arrive. I might also try my hand at some crocheting with some of the yarn I got at the swap. I also have a work colleague who is expecting. I need to think about what I might make for the impending bundle of joy.

Now, I've got to go straighten up. Tomorrow, a very talented photographer and neighbor of mine is coming over to make some portraits of us and the dogs. He says he wants us to wear sweaters.

Oh, we got sweaters...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Big Bend

If you've been following me at Flickr or on Twitter, you'll have seen a few of these photos from our getaway to Big Bend National Park this week. I'll be posting more photos later, but I wanted to get out a quick post while I had wifi access and a little spare time on our last day here.

We got here Sunday afternoon and immediately had a bit of drama when the vet, where the dogs were being kenneled, called at the last possible moment of mobile reception to tell us that a lump we'd noticed on Pona's neck should probably be biopsied or removed. We had to make some quick decisions. All correspondence has been via spotty email, but Pona's mass was removed, it was benign (a histiocytoma) and he's right as rain. Can't wait to see him -- and Kate -- tomorrow.

On Monday, we hiked down to The Window, a pour-off out of the Chisos Mountains that drops several hundred feet to the desert below. Watch your step! After getting back, we drove the thirty miles down to Santa Elena Canyon where the Rio Grande has carved a deep divide through solid rock. It's just one of my favorite places on earth and I never tire of visiting it. You can't see it here, but the river follows the bluff along the Chihuahua side to the left for several miles, forming a steep wall.

Tuesday was our major hiking day. We did a 12-mile loop that went up the Pinnacles Trail to the top of the Chisos Mountains, up through Boot Canyon out to the South Rim, and then back through Laguna Meadows. We're sore today, but it was worth it. I first did this same hike half my lifetime ago, and it's gratifying to know that I can still do it.

We saw lots of Mexican Jays and other birds during our walk, but unlike four years ago, no bears. And, lucky for us, no mountain lions. Apparently, they've been getting a bit bold as the continuing drought forces them to seek water near the campgrounds.

Today, we headed to the east side of the park and drove down the rather primitive Old Ore Road to Ernst Tinaja. A tinaja is a hollowed out pool in a canyon stream bed, that, being somewhat deep, tends to hold water most of the time, even if the stream is dry. Since we'd had a storm the night before, it was quite full with dark, tannin-rich water. The folded pink and gray rocks around it are beautiful.

Afterwards, we headed to the newly re-opened border crossing and took a boat across to Boquillas del Carmen in Mexico. This town was hit hard when the crossing was shut down after 9/11, and it's good to see it open again. A nice guy named Gabriel gave us a ride into town -- in his truck, not on these burros -- and showed us around, and answered our questions. We grabbed a beer at one of the bars in town and bought a few trinkets from some of the local kids. It's a miracle this former mining town has hung on as long as it has -- here's hoping the tourists start coming back.

Heading back to Austin tomorrow. Oh -- and I didn't knit a stitch while I was here, even though I brought the sock I'm working on. I'll get back to it when I get home!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Swap Analysis

Ever get tired of looking at the yarn in your stash and thinking, "What the hell was I thinking?" Or maybe, "What will I ever do with that?" If so, consider organizing a yarn swap. Some of my regular group of knitters got together last weekend and did just that. We had a potluck, did a little drinking, and brought our yarny trash, in hopes that we might snag someone else's fiber-y treasures. It's the third time we've done it over the years, and it was a blast.

Here's how we handle the process: we draw numbers in rounds. So, if there were 8 participants, we'd draw the numbers 1-8 out of a hat for round one. Then we'd draw numbers 9 through 16 for the second round, etc. You can base the number of rounds on the numbers of "lots" of yarn, or just decide how many up front. Then we dump all the yarn that everyone brought onto a big table. Usually, if you have multiple balls of the same yarn, it's bagged together into a lot. Then person 1 gets the first choice, and on through all the numbers. It's fun to paw through as people "shop," trying to hide things under the pile until their turn comes up. After we're all sated, what's left gets donated to a charity.

I usually go thinking of it as an opportunity to declutter, but I always come back with cool stuff. This time I got 7 hanks of Cascade 220 -- 6 in dark green heather and one in a light grey/green heather. Not sure if it's enough for an adult sweater -- but maybe for a nephew? I also got to thinking about crochet lately after reading a recent essay by Franklin Habit, and a Twitter conversation that followed. This pile of red Pima cotton yarn should be good for that. And then I got 6 skeins of a weird wool/mohair/acrylic blend from Dalegarn that I have no idea what I'll do with -- but I like the olive tweed color. If creativity fails me, I can always contribute it to the next swap!

Tomorrow, Jeff and I are headed for Big Bend National Park for a few days of hiking and relaxation under those big west Texas skies. This will be the first time we've visited during a new moon, so I'm really looking forward to seeing a beautiful night sky. "The stars at night, are big and bright..." -- you know the rest. We will try to find some wifi and share a bit of our adventures while we're there.


Saturday, May 04, 2013


I needed a breather after last week's posting spate, but it seems I'm still fixated on one of the themes: grayness. Despite all the beautiful colors growing and blooming this time of year, my eyes are still drawn to the gray, all along the scale from white to black. If you've been watching Game of Thrones this season, you'll know that greyscale means something quite different in that world. I like our use of the word better. Poor, sweet Shireen Baratheon. But I digress...

I managed to finish the first of the Spiegel socks this week. Such a strangley interesting pattern. The pattern runs down the outside of the leg, then splits with one side twisting over the instep, pushed into position by the expanding triangular pattern on the cuff. Also, the heel is only half as high as most heels, and the turn is square rather than shaped. Turns out this suits my square heels just fine. I did have a bit of a hole on one side of the ankle, but I was able to gather it in on the inside with some careful stitch tracing and reinforcing. I've started the second sock, which I hope will progress more quickly.

Looking forward, I was able to get some of the yarn for the Grettir Sweater at Hill Country Weavers today. These are the contrasting colors used in the yoke. For left to right they are Snowbound, Cast Iron and Sweatshirt. The main color, Soot, is out of stock most places, so I may just have to wait until they go back into production next month. Grrr. I can be as grouchy as a two-year-old when I have to wait for yarn. It's not fair!

While at the shop, I perused a Shelter and Loft trunk show, with several items made from all of these wonderfully earthy shades. I imagine some of them were knit by Jared Flood himself, but I did see one green dress that a friend of mine made. It was like seeing an old friend.