Monday, November 26, 2007

What I'm Thankful For...

Turns out it did get cold, the front pulled in on Wednesday afternoon and temperatures here in Austin plummeted 45 degrees. It went from a record high of 89 degrees to a brisk 40-something in mere hours. It was absolutely Thanksgiving weather, and I was thankful for it.

I started the Thanksgiving Holiday by participating in the 17th Annual Turkey Trot 5 Mile (8k) Run for charity. Some 10,000 runners ran through Downtown Austin and the UT Campus. It was the perfect way to start Thanksgiving Day, I spent the rest of the day feeling healthy, and a little cocky, and absolutely guilt free. I was thankful for that.

After the race, and before going to dinner, I finished the Headline News Hat I had started, and as I said I would, I wore something warm, and hand-knit, and was thankful for it.

I really love this hat

Dinner was fantastic! Very traditional fare at a friend's, with tons of her family around. I made these Sweet Potatoes. They were well received and I was thankful for that. I was also thankful for the invitation.

I was especially grateful that all three of the Wonder Mutts were included in the invitation and joined us for the holiday. I am thankful that I have three dogs, I am thankful that they are really GREAT dogs, and I am thankful that I have friends who love them.

I spent "Black Friday" at home, knitting, and surfing Etsy. I will uphold my pledge to Buy Handmade for the next big holiday. And yes, I couldn't be more thankful for that.

I spent most of Saturday at an Adoption Day for Blue Dog Rescue. And a good part of Sunday at Brunch with friends at the best damn Mexican Restaurant in Austin. I am thankful for Blue Dog and the work that they do. I am thankful that I have friends who eat Brunch. And I am thankful for Mexican food.

I come away from the big Thanksgiving giving thanks, and that my friends, is what it's all about.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Austria ...? Nope, Not Austria Just Austin

Turns out the plans couldn't be made and I won't be traveling to Austria this winter. Just an ordinary Christmas here in Austin TX and a secret wish that it was colder here. I almost hate to admit it but the most exciting part of going to Austria was the promise of a taste, just a taste, of a real winter.

When I left Minnesota I swore I'd never grow nostalgic for winter. I went on and on about how much I dislike the cold, about how daunting it is to live where it snows all the damn time, how I would never look back fondly on below zero days and snow up to my eyebrows. And I suppose that all remains true.

Now I'm here in Austin TX and I'm harboring a secret desire that it was colder here. Not the hurts-your-face and freezes-your-eyelashes cold of January in Minnesota. But cold enough to wear all those beautiful scarves and sweaters I want to knit.

I did just fine this Spring and Summer knitting with cotton and bamboo and other warm weather fibers. I was perfectly content, in fact happy, knitting tanks and sleeveless tops. But now it's late Fall and the weather is turning wintry in most places and the current issues of the knitting magazines, and all the blogs in blog land are filled with beautiful winter knits, and I've got a secret nostalgic yen for cold.

I'm not the only one either. Yesterday in my knitting group we dreamily admired several patterns, only to concluded with disappointment "but when would we ever wear it?". I was trying to decide on a yarn to start Flair, and I pet and I cooed over some incredible llama, but concluded "it will be too warm", and settled for cotton, again. It's not that I don't love cotton, we all know that I do, but honestly a touch of alpaca, or a smidge of mohair would be lovely.

In the end, I suppose I feel better having confessed my secret yearnings. I suppose I will continue to knit jackets and sweaters and scarves that I know I will only wear but maybe once a year here in Austin. I suppose I could take up skiing and thereby have a reason to travel to cold and snowy places. I suppose I could knit with rich warm animal fibers and send the finished objects away as gifts to loved ones left in the cold. I suppose we all make sacrifices...

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And the weather man has forecast a cold front, a big strong cold front. There is a good chance that tomorrow the temperature here in Austin won't get out of the 40's, there's a chance it will feel a little cold just for the day. It will surely be back in the 70's by the weekend. But tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, it will be cold, and I will wear a warm hand-knit something, and I will be thankful for it. Have a Happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Knitting Nightmare and Austria...?

I had a complete failure come off my needles today. I had been working on the Rib and Cable Gaiter from the One Skein book. I was using Blue Sky Alpaca's Alpaca and Silk. I loved the process. Simple to memorize the pattern, a fast little project, a lovely yarn, more cables, a warm winter accessory. And then ...

The Knitting Nightmare

I did the bind off and what to my wondering eyes should appear...? A really big, really floppy, really disappointing finished object. It was simply huge.

So I thought, maybe I can full it a bit, shrink it down just a touch, I've got nothing to lose really. The result: Ruined. It didn't shrink it stretched. And now I have a really really big, really really floppy, really really disappointing, wet, sad, something. Ugh!

On a more cheerful note: Why all the warm wintery accessories when I live in Texas...? Austria. Austria...?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Finished Objects and a Wee Rant about Size

As promised this post has knitting content. Including finished objects, my first cables, a shrug that fits, and a book I love.

I just finished the One Skein Single Cable Scarf. I knit it with the Blue Sky Alpaca's Dyed Cotton. I should mention, if I haven't already, this is quickly becoming my most favorite yarn. It's soft, it feels good, it knits beautifully, and it's grown organically. Yumm.

Got Cotton Cables?

I loved this pattern. Fast, simple, and yes my first go at cables. Who knew it would be so simple to add such great detail. I, for some unknown and silly reason, erroneously had it in my head that cables would be hard. There not. And I'm so pleased that their not that I've gone cable crazy - I've just cast on the Rib and Cable Gaiter from the same book, and the Headline News News Boy Hat from Stitch and Bitch Nation. Give me a couple weeks and I'll be all cabled up.

I also made another of the One Skein Wonder Shrugs and this time it fits. I used the Blue Sky Alpaca's Dyed Cotton again this time, and the same size 6 needles but I made it 3 sizes larger and it fits. Fits just the way I want it to fit in fact. I like this pattern a lot, it knits up fast and makes a sweet little garment. My only complaint, and this is becoming an irritant with lots of patterns, I shouldn't have to knit a double XL, I think of myself as a pretty average sized girl.

my model is half my size

This past week I ordered a copy of Moreno and Singer's Big Girl Knits. I LOVE THIS BOOK! Really, it became an instant favorite. Mostly because I do think of myself as a pretty average sized girl, average with a bit of tummy and booty the size of Texas, but average. And it's more than just a bit tiresome to have to knit the extra large measurements given in most knitting patterns. I don't want to rake the muck, but I'm not, nor have I ever been a size 2, and I personally don't know even a single knitter that is. So what gives? Who wears all those itty-bitty garments...?

Back to the book - I LOVE THIS BOOK! It's smart, and funny and written with wit. It's chuck-full of good advice on really important things like which necklines work for a busty bust, which hem lines look best on a booty like mine, how to emphasize your waist, and draw attention to your curves. It also gives really thorough instructions, including the math, to make any pattern fit you just right. It also has beautiful patterns. The kind of patterns that sent me straight to my Ravelry queue to line 'em all up. If you're a truly big girl, or even an average girl with curves, I highly recommend this book. I for one have got some serious knitting to do, and I look forward to the fit.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Doing My Part to Live a Little Greener

So it's been awhile since I've posted about ways in which I've been doing my part to live a little greener and love my planet a little more, but I have been making changes, some big and some small.

First the big, and really the least interesting. We've just finished upgrading the house, we did a new furnace, A/C, duct work, weatherizing, attic insulation, and a new tank-less hot water heater. The City of Austin and Texas Gas both have some great rebate programs to encourage more efficient energy use, and of course we went with the greenest choices all the way around.

I've gotten serious about the back yard compost pile also. The City of Austin does collect yard waste separately and composts on a large scale, but the kitchen compost had been going in the trash until recently. I was inspired by my neighbor who had stopped by to let the dogs have a romp while I was making a giant pot of soup. As I was about to toss the pile of scraps and peelings she asked if she could have them, stating her compost pile was a little heavy on leaves and needed the nutrients. I let her take that pile home, and have since started my own pile out back. It easy and sort of fun, and since I have every intention of putting in my vegetable garden next spring all that black gold will come in handy.

Lastly, we've made the switch to biodegradable poop bags for the dogs. It may seem small but I've always felt really horrible about the plastic bag consumption in this house. I have always justified it by telling myself that I was recycling the plastic shopping bags by using them to clean up after the dogs. Well no more! I don't accept plastic shopping bags anymore, anywhere and I buy the biodegradable bags for the poop. I feel better about it. I saw on my local news recently that the City of Austin is considering a city wide ban on plastic shopping bags. They have asked retailers to try it on a volunteer basis while they figure it out. We would apparently be the second city in the nation to institute such a ban the other being San Francisco. It's great to live in a city that at least tries to encourage it's citizens to live a little greener and do their part for the planet.

Next post - knitting content.