sweetfigs   s w e e t   f i g s


                in pursuit of a fruitful life


Friday, September 29, 2006

Eye Candy Friday

Blooms from a farmers' market in downtown Chicago. Happy Friday everyone!


Thursday, September 28, 2006

FO Report -- Sock Wars Socks of Doom for stringthing

After a bit of delay due to the effects of Hurricane Gordon on Northern Ireland, Yarn Monkey managed to post the official pattern for the Sock Wars Sock of Doom on Friday afternoon.

When I started knitting I had no idea how long it would take me to finish. I usually knit socks with fingering weight on US size 0/2 mm needles, but the Sock of Doom pattern calls for yarn that is twice as thick and US size 5/3.75 mm needles. I'm not a very fast knitter, but I can knit one of my usual socks in about a week, so maybe the Sock of Doom would take 3 days of dedicated knitting?

Et voile, a pair of soft red wool socks for stringthing:

I know the picture is blurry, but that's all I got before sending them off in the mail. It's photos like this that are making me think about a new digital camera.

Yarn: 2 strands of Dale Baby Ull (easy care superwash), with a strand of Fortissima Socka reinforcing yarn in the heels & toes. US shoe size womens 8, 53 grams each.

I'm waiting now to hear about their arrival and whether my target managed to send her completed socks out before she was killed.

In the meantime, I added about 6 inches to the red scarf I'm making for the Orphan Foundation.

I also finally succeded in adding a progress tracker to my sidebar. Woot!


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

There She Is

Leave it my sister, the family geneologist, to have a digital picture of our grandma. This portrait was taken in the mid 1970s, when she would have been in her mid 50s. This is how I remember her. The glint in her eye, about to break into laughter, and the soft upswept hairdo. When I look at this picture, I can hear her voice.

If Grandma were to pick out her photo for this blog, it would probably be something like this one from Rome. She loved to travel, but her husband didn't, so she ventured to the far stretches of the world without him. She's the lady on the far right with those sensible walking shoes, again with the upswept hairdo. I think this one was taken in the late 1960s. The caption written on the back of this photo reads GIOBERTI-Roma-Via-Paolina-5-A-S.-Maria-Maggiore. I'll have to search the internet a bit and figure out what it means -- maybe its the name of the photographer?
And last, just in case Grandpa is feeling left out, here's an undated photo of him. I think he's showing me one of the crabs that he liked to catch in cages that floated off shore from his North Carolina home. He passed away when I was still in school and its a little hard for me to remember him.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I'm Soooo Ready for Sock Wars 2006

Here it is, finally, the big day, the 22nd of September. The first day of Sock Wars 2006. So far it is like watching paint dry.

I've just been sitting around waiting for an email from YarnMonkey, the Belfast knitter who is organizing about 800 of us in an international knit off. Today is the day we are to receive the details of our first targets. To take out a target, you must knit them a pair of socks in the official pattern and send the pair off in the mail. If your target receives your socks before they have finished delivering a pair to their target, they are out of the tournament.

Since Belfast is 6 hours ahead of Chicago, I was hoping Yarnmonkey's email would be sitting in my inbox when I woke up this morning. Then I could cast on before I went to work and make a little progress during the commute. Nope. Not gonna happen. Arrgh!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Simple Pleasure

I love my dog
My dog loves cold weather
I love cold weather

You wouldn't think that a dog with very short hair would be bothered by hot weather, but my sweet Libby can't stand the heat. Lucky for me, it's been a little cool in Chicago this week, and she has resumed her autumn and winter ritual of snuggling with me every chance she gets. Here she is doing what she does best.

She's been doing fine since finishing up the treatment for Lyme Disease. She stumbled last night while playing fetch and is limping today, but I think that's due to her age, rather than the disease. I'll keep her on an anti-inflamatory for a few days and try to discourage her from jumping around too much.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

WIP -- Red Scarf for OFA

My trip to Florida gave me a chance to start a red scarf for OFA. (If you're not familiar with the Red Scarf Project, find the button on my sidebar.)

I was in a hurry when I left home, so I chose the yarn & pattern very quickly. OFA prefers to receive unisex scarves, but to me this one seems more pretty than unisex. What do you think? Click the photo if you need to see a larger version. Should I go ahead and add a few sparkly beads to the points?

Monday, September 18, 2006

I haven't posted since last week because I scurried out of town when I heard my grandmother had a stroke.

She turned 93 this summer, so the phone call wasn't entirely unexpected, but still, for most of her life, my grandmother enjoyed remarkably good health. Not perfect health, but pretty darn good. My mother has worked abroad for the past few years and us kids are spread out around the U.S., but with the help of friends, my grandmother managed to stay in her own home on a beach in North Carolina until she was almost 90. Pretty good, huh?

She went into a North Carolina nursing home with the hopes that a brief stay would help her bounce back. She slowed down even more, however, became depressed about the situation, and finally started to drift mentally. At 92, she gave up hope of returning home and agreed to move to a nursing facility near my sister in Florida. When my sister reviewed and researched my grandmother's prescriptions, she discovered that Grandma was overmedicated. Grossly overmedicated. For instance, the North Carolina doctor had said he would replace one of her prescriptions because she was having trouble with it, but instead of replacing it, he had doubled it and added on the replacement. My sister isn't a fan of allopathic medicine to begin with, so you can imagine how well that bit of news went over.

Under my sister's wing in Florida, Grandma got off some of those nasty meds and came back to life. She grew stronger, more mobile, and more herself. On her 93rd birthday, Grandma was happier, more capable, and more with it mentally than she had been on her 92nd birthday. She never regained conciousness and died about 24 hours after the stroke.

I don't have a digital photo of Grandma, so this tree in the Upper Peninsula will be a stand in. I found this peaceful tree on a hot July day in a remote part of Sylvania Woods. We hiked back on what turned out to be a deer path. Other than one car that passed by on the road, all we could hear was the wind rustling through the trees, a few bugs buzzing about, and the crunch of leaves under foot.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Guten Morgen, Stricker. Sprechen Sie Englisch?

Isn't this a pretty shawl? I love the little lacy holes and the scalloped border.

My mother, who lives in Bavaria and does not knit, found the pattern and asked me to make it for her. OK! I'd love to! We picked out some soft red yarn and I'm all ready to start knitting.

The only problem is that the pattern is in German and I don't speak German.

I tried running the instructions through a German-to-English translation website (OK, lots of different websites), but they still don't make sense to me. See for yourself
Triangle cloth, size of 104 x 50 cm:
Basic pattern: See diagram 2. Represented are only Hinreihe. In the Rückr M STR., like them, U appear left knit to 1 x the 1. - 14. R work. then 3. - 14 R always repeat 1 small box = 1 M and 2 R.
Dreiecktuch: 147 M with needles No. 5.5 fasten and directly in the basic pattern work in each 2. R is drawn removed reciprocally per 1 from M as in the diagram 2 in. After approximately 50 overall height remaining 3M abketten.
Completion: The edges of the Dreicktuches as follows umhäkeln: *1 fe M, 2 M change, 5 Stb together into 1 parting place, 2 M ignore, ab* always repeat, with 1 fe M end.

Can anyone help me with the German-to-English translation? Pretty please? Please email me at gmail if you are willing to try.

Monday, September 11, 2006

FO Report -- Sewn Bag (KSKS kit completed)

Remember this fabric? Well it's been transformed into this:

My KSKS partner was hoping for something she could knit from while walking, so I put together this little backpack/ messenger bag. It didn't turn out perfectly, but I learned a lot and was fairly happy with the results.
There's a big pocket in the back for carrying a pattern or magazine and smaller pockets for carrying the yarn and gadgets. I also included a little key chain clip on one of the side panels, so she doesn't have to hunt. The top closes with an adjustable drawstring.
I enjoyed getting to know someone new through their blog and putting together this little sock knit kit for her. The pattern comes from The Keyboard Biologist and the yarn is hand dyed loveliness from Scout J, one of our swap organizers.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

My KSKS package has arrived!

Aren't I lucky! I got the most wonderful package from my Knit Sock Kit Swap partner!
I now have the cutest little bag to carry around my sock WIP. It's just the right size for tucking under my arm, and it's crocheted, which is just perfect since I'm not so good at the crocheting myself.

My partner also picked out the most beautiful shade of purple sock yarn and included a pattern that's been on my wish list. I'm all set!

But wait, there's more. She very thoughtfully included all the tools I need -- a new pair of DPs, a tapestry needle, and some super sharp scissors.

Plus, a lucious limon/lime candle, some cookies, AND CHOCOLATE. Dark chocolate no less. Um, ok, so there was more dark chocolate when the package arrived, but something happened to it on the way home from the post office.

Love it, love it all! OK, KSKS partner, mwaaah and thank you, you are the best! But who are you? The package was sent anonymously. Don't keep me guessing!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Eye Candy Friday?

What a crazy week! I'm so glad it's Friday.

During the 2 months I've had this blog, I've slowly learned how to get all the bits and pieces together. I've figured out ways, for instance, to code links and resize buttons so that they fit in the side column. A lot of trial and error. I was even on the verge of taking down the "under construction" banner from the top of the page. Then I managed to trash the template and lose all my links, buttons, and other customizations. All gone. I wasn't sent back all the way to square one, but it's still pretty disappointing. Instead of writing blog entries, I've been rewriting my customizations. Hopefully I'll get caught up over the weekend.

This photo is from my neighbors' backyard. When I composed the shot, it included a butterfly. Oh well. Does it still qualify as eye candy?


Thursday, September 07, 2006

The View from My (Midwestern Car) Window

Here are some snaps of eastern Wisconsin taken over the Labor Day weekend. I didn't grow up in the midwest and I live in The City That Works, so it amazes me a little to see farmland in person.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

FO Report -- Odessa

I just sent this hat to my mom for her birthday.

She's about to spend her second year in northern Bavaria, which, as near as I can tell, has winter weather like Chicago's.

I picked out this color to set off her lovely blue eyes, and I think she'll like the softness of the yarn and the little bling-y beads. She's always appreciated my handmade creations, so the best part for her will probably be that I made this just for her.

Pattern: Odessa, by the impressive Grumperina, available on MagKnits

Materials: Rowan Cashsoft DK (57% extra fine merino, 33% microfibre, 10% cashmere, 142 yd / 130m per 50g ball), 1 ball in Navy, color 514. 1 tube of size 6 multi colored beads from Joann, used about 1/3 of the tube.

Modifications: Instead of using US #4 for the cuff and US #6 for the body, I used US #5 (3.75mm) for the entire hat. I knit kind of loose and didn't like how smooshy the fabric was on the 6s. Going down a needle size made the circumference smaller, but I still started the swirl of decreases when the hat was 5.5 inches tall. It's a comfortable, not too snug fit.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fall is coming

We loaded up the car on Friday afternoon and drove up to the U.P. for the Labor Day weekend. Libby usually passes out cold when were traveling, and this trip was no exception. She wakes up in the home stretch, starts sniffing the piney air like crazy, and then goes non-stop for the rest of the weekend. She's so excited to be there that we can count on her to wake us up the first night at about 4:00 a.m., to go play.

As we drive up north, urban gives way to rural and rural gives way to the great outdoors. Every so often I caught a flash of orange or red in the road ahead. What first registered as roadside hazard warnings turned out to be small trees that had already taken on fall colors.

I spent Saturday knitting w/my MIL. She was working on a sweater for one of the great-grandkids, and I managed to finish my mom's birthday present (hurray!). So come back later for a picture of that FO and snapshots of the northwoods heading into autumn.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Libby, would you like to take a walk?

I'd like to get more photos of us just going about our every day routine in Chicago.

Or maybe I should say I'd like to get more good photos.

I grabbed the camera before we took the dog for a walk around the 'hood, and this is the best out of about a dozen photos.

Oh well.

Happy Labor Day! See you in a few.