Sunday, October 31, 2010

Anyone K-ing AL?

One of the hard things about an informal KAL is that I have no idea if anyone is actually K-ing AL. And given that I took a break from my own version for that little trip, I would not be surprised if everyone has forgotten all about the Horseshoe Lace Triangle Shawl (pattern in the above link).
I haven't forgotten though. I'm making very good progress on it, in fact. I have 19 repeats on the needles, and I'm finding that it's a nicely meditative project. The lace repeat is easy enough that I can watch TV as I knit. I think it's going to be a lovely shawl, and the edges will block into well defined scallops, which will eliminate the need to pick up and knit a decorative border around it.

I'm not sure how much bigger to make it (the pattern adds 2 repeats in every 16 rows). It'll block out a lot bigger than it looks right now, and I can easily stretch the triangle point to 36" from the needle, and a rough calculation (6" stretched for 2 repeats) makes it a good 60" wide when I finish this repeat. I think I'll add at least one or two more repeats (which will take me a few nights- we're at the stage where rows take awhile now). But after that, it should be done.

I'm very curious to find out how much yarn this shawl needs- I have some handspun that would really look pretty in this pattern, but I don't know if I have enough. I'm thinking beads along the scalloped edges...

Oh, I almost forgot:

I finished the Horseshoe Lace Socks before I left for NC.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Airplane Books

I don't knit on planes any more- there's not enough elbow room. I'd much rather read, and with all of the connecting flights and layovers, I had plenty of time for reading on my SAFF trip (also in the evenings while I was too tired to do anything except cough.)
I resisted The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for a very long time. I often find translations hard going- they don't flow very well for me (I hated Smilla's Sense of Snow, for that reason, though I'll admit that the name Smilla pulled me out of the story every time I saw it). I had also heard from multiple reliable sources that the book was slow going, that it took a long time to get to the real story. But I knew that I was going to spend a very long day in several airports, with nothing better to do, so that seemed like the perfect time to give it a try (knowing that I would have access to other bookstores if I really couldn't stomach the story).

The multiple reliable sources were right- it did take a long time to get to the real plot, and the names were difficult for me- Blomkvist strikes me as nearly unpronouncable (even mentally) and the spelling of Mikael tripped me up constantly. However, I did fall into the story totally, and I read 3/4 of it on the way to North Carolina.

I don't usually enjoy the *beautiful, brilliant, misunderstood, anti-social, loner* characters, but I did like Lisabeth Salander, and I willingly suspended my disbelief that this little dynamo could actually take on baddies twice her age and size and come out the victor. I had a bit harder time with Blomkvist- we're told that he's a brilliant, handsome, gifted writer and editor, and we're shown multiple times that women immediately fall into love/bed with him. But I was never convinced that he was anything more than a cardboard jerk. Actually, he was worse than a jerk (character-wise)- he was totally boring. Nothing about him interested me (and I have been known to fall in literary love with fictional heroes). So mostly, I skimmed the Blomkvist-centric portions, and loved the Salander stuff.

I found Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero, in the Asheville Wal-Mart as I was waiting for the pharmacy to open so I could buy some Advil Cold and Sinus (you have to show a drivers license and sign to buy it there, just like in SD). Voracious Reader and I both loved the Percy Jackson Books, and I was thrilled to find that Riordan had begun another series set in that same universe. This first book in the Heroes of Olympus Series visits Camp Half-Blood. Old favorites have cameos (Annabeth, Chiron), but the story centers on three new characters who are sent on a dangerous quest. I'm not going to bother with a synopsis- if you loved the Percy books, you'll love this one. It's on the way to VR even as I type.

I've had Dead and Gone for awhile. In fact, it went to SoCal with me, but I got distracted by Laura Lippman's latest, and The Hunger Games Trilogy, and by that whole 3 hour, non-stop flight thing. I stuffed it in my carry-on for NC, but still didn't get around to it until I was on my way home. The 9th entry into the Sookie Stackhouse  Southern Vampire series has no surprises, nothing that you don't expect from a Sookie story- it's a sort of goofy comfort read. A very quick, goofy comfort read. So quick in fact, that I finished it shortly after takeoff from Detroit, and had to make do with the in-flight magazine for the rest of that leg.

I picked up The Girl Who Played With Fire in the Minneapolis airport and dove right in. The story took up almost immediately after the ending of Dragon Tattoo. All of the things that I enjoyed about the first book were in this one, and all of the things I didn't like were there too (Blomkvist is still a non-entity). The plot of this book is a bit harder to process- there were an incredible number of amazing coincidences driving the story (more than once, random characters just happened to be in the exact perfect place at the exact perfect time to witness the exact perfect incidents), and the whole of the story revolved around a fairly mighty coincidence. That said, I checked my disbelief with my bag and enjoyed it. There's one more book in the series (Larsson died after completing the first 3, though there are rumors of a nearly completed fourth novel in the series), and I'll buy it when it comes out in paperback (or perhaps I'll check it out from the library). I don't love them enough to buy the hardback just to finish the series.

Four books in a very busy week is a pretty good record- and those books will have to tide me over for awhile, because I have a book of my own to write. And December 1 is barreling down the pike.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Look what came while I was in North Carolina

My copy of 101 Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders!

Like all of the books in the series, this edition is chock full of wonderful patterns and designs, all using a single skein of yarn- in this case, sock yarn. Of course, I jumped at the chance to contribute these:

I used Twisted Fiber Arts yarn, in Playful (the wonderful heavy fingering weight superwash), dyed in the Scorched colorway. I don't think Scorched is on the roster at the moment, but any of the wonderful Twisted self-striping colorways would knit up to the same effect.
I have recently been reminded that winter is on the way- so I'm glad these gloves are back with me, because they're mine! All mine!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Son, The Writer... and Artist

... and soon-to-be iApp

Here in Taylorville, we're doing the Happy Dance!

Catching Up

You know that cough I mentioned? The one I mostly ignored before I left for SAFF, and assumed would just go away? It turned out to be bronchitis. I guess emerging unscathed last year from five days with the Swine Flu Sisters fooled me into thinking I could spend time with Coughing GrandGirls without consequences. I was wrong. I'm on the mend, but it's taking awhile to get back up to speed.

Outside of the constant cough and the car sitting on my chest, SAFF was wonderful. The huge festival is extremely well run, and I bow to the organizers. I caught up with old friends and made lots of new ones. I ate plenty of Goat Milk Fudge (new wonderful flavors: Vanilla/Orange, Mocha, Raspberry, and Mint), whose booth was extremely popular. The weather was perfect- chilly in the morning and shirt-sleeve in the afternoons. The leaves favored me with beautiful colors (the orange/red/yellow Blue Ridge Mountains on my takeoff from Asheville were breathtaking). The songbirds still sang. Biltmore was every bit as amazing as I remembered, and I got to spend 6 days, reconnecting with my sister (who took very good care of me- I'm not very good at not feeling well). Mostly, we ate at our motel, but for the first two nights, we had supper at the Texas Roadhouse, which specializes in huge portions, amazing sweet potatoes, and very good Black Russians.

I am thrilled with how my workshops went (as always, I had genius students)- I taught two new ones (Little Tips and Cheater Knitting Tricks, and All-Day Fair Isle Design). The Fair Isle class had a low-signup but I'm glad for that- it's an intense workshop, and I don't think I'd want more than 6 students at a time. My sister Sandi, who hadn't done much knitting in the last 30 years, knitted her first Fair Isle ever in the previous day's All-Day Hat workshop. Here's what she produced from the Design class:

It's her own original design, and she sat up until 1:00am working on it! I don't know who is prouder- the designer, or the big sister.

I didn't do any recreational knitting at SAFF- by evening, I was ready to collapse (teaching is exhausting- how do real teachers do it every day?), so after supper, I just read (4 books, which I will talk about later) and enjoyed spending time with Sandi.

The storms were already starting to brew on Monday. Flights in and out of Atlanta were delayed, and there were tornado and thunderstorm watches and warnings all over the place. I was very glad to be routed through Detroit. All of my flights were bumpy, and most were delayed a bit. It rained and blew everywhere, including on the 75 mile drive home from Watertown. But I made it in and home safely around 11:00pm. If my flight had been scheduled for yesterday, I would still be stranded in an airport somewhere.

We've had 30mph steady winds, with frequent gusts up to 60mph since yesterday morning, rain, and dropping temps. Today, we woke up to this (I had to take a pic from the back deck, because the very strong west wind won't allow us to open the front door):

I don't think it's Fall any more.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

SAFF-Day the Last

I'm feeling better (that cough nearly got the better of me- I've had just enough energy to teach my workshops and then collapse, but today I'm mostly human). Today's workshops went swimmingly, but I forgot to take pictures. However, yesterday, the Fair isle Design students worked very hard
on an intense all-day workshop, learning elements of Fair Isle design. And they were not only able to design a hat, but

my sister Sandi sat up untio 1:00am knitting on hers. That is exactly her 2nd Fair Isle project ever (her first was the workshop the day before) and her first oroginal design. I don't know who is more proud: her, or her Big Sister.

So, SAFF is over for another year- I had a wonderful time, and I hope hope hope to come back again. Tomorrow, I spend most of the day in airports- routing through Detroit on the way home. I'm sorry to leave, but it'll be nice to sleep in  my own bed. I'll leave you with a couple of pretty pictures.


Sorry I'm behind on posting. We've been incredibly busy, so in the evenings, I mostly just collapse. And unfortunately,the cough that I thought would magically disappear, didn't. But I am having a wonderful time, and as always, I have been blessed with genius students. Today is the last day of SAFF, and I fly home tomorrow. I'll post pics tonight, I promise.

Friday, October 22, 2010

SAFF- Friday

I'm too tired for witty repartee. But:
Cool hats were made
by one and all.

Many beautiful items were bought and sold.

The crowd was amazng.

And the Goat Milk Fudge was the best fudge I've ever had. Seriously.

Tomorrow? More of the same. Especially the fudge.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Biltmore, the last

Tomorrow the work portion of this trip begins. Of course, most people's work doesn't involve being surrounded by wool fumes and wonderful, enthusiastic people, which means I'm luckier than most. Unfortunately, I've picked up a cough that I can't shake, which does not bode well for 3 solid days of talking, so we'll see how it goes. I may be doing some of my classes in American Sign Language.

But before we head to the McGough Arena tomorrow, I'll leave you with a few pretty pictures.

Beautiful flower from the Conservatory.

One of hundreds of carvings on the outside of Biltmore.
Antler Hill Village, where the Winery is, with the Biltmore Inn in the distance.


More leaves.

Biltmore, from an unusual angle.

and from The Usual Angle

What an amazing couple of days it's been (the Behind the Scenes Tour was every bit as amazing as the Rooftop Tour). What fun the next three will be!

More Biltmore

We took the general walking house tour of Biltmore yesterday. Sandi had never seen it, and I definitely wanted to see it again. It's such an amazing house (such excess, such beauty, such everything). No photography is allowed inside at all, though we were allowed to take pictures outside while on the roofs (rooves?)
This is from the side of the house.

This was their back yard. It's not peak leaf time yet, but it's beautiful.

Carvings, carvings everywhere.

The gardens are beautiful in every season.

The fading roses are still gorgeous.

A view from the gardens.

And the mums are amazing.

Today, we're taking the Behind the Scenes tour, visiting areas not open to the general tour. And we're going to explore the Conservatory and Gardener's Cottage, and do some more souvenir shopping. Unfortunately, no pics are allowed inside, but I'll take pics where I can, and report back tonight.

It's interesting, last year we were able to go up to the 4th floor on the general house tour. This year, it was blocked off, though we went up there for the Rooftop Tour. They're very busy setting out the Christmas trees- I can just imagine how beautiful this place is during the holidays.

So- today we play. Tomorrow, I go to work. One last shot from the roof:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Biltmore Rooftop Tour

If you ever get to the Biltmore Estate- take the Rooftop Tour. That's an order.

See that flag up there? Waaaay up there? That's where you get to stand if you take the Rooftop tour.

Gargoyles have butts. Who knew?

It's a looong way down.

Biltmore Roofs are very pointy.

Biltmore stone is very carvy.

George Vanderbilt was very fond of his own initials (which were originally gilded with gold leaf)
and sisters who haven't seen each other in 14 years are very happy to be together in this beautiful place. How beautiful is it?

This beautiful.