The adventures of a knitting grandmother

My Photo
Location: United States

She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Random Tuesday

There really isn't anything to show, knit-wise. The River Rocks Sock #2 continues when I have a chance to work on it. And it looks the same as the first one did with four leg repeats done. It is so hot and humid now that I can't imagine working on anything but socks. So Random Tuesday it is.

1. Humidity in the desert is really nasty. Bodies that are used to no humidity the other ten months of the year do not suddenly adapt well to humidity in the 90's. The storms come and nothing dries out from day to day. Everything and everyone is morbidly soggy.

2. We have had big storms each day this week. There is a lot of standing water in between, but during the storms the water rushes away in flood stage and there is nowhere to escape. All the grasshoppers from the last few weeks have disappeared. The ones the birds didn't eat have probably been washed away. There isn't a grasshopper to be seen now.

3. One of the good things about the rain is that every growing thing turns amazingly lush and green. However, it's hard to photograph during a downpour.

4. Buddy is a wuss about rain. He doesn't mind walking through puddles, but he hates the feel of raindrops hitting his head. He keeps going from the front door to the back door, probably hoping that the rain in the front yard isn't falling in the back yard. His disgust at the whole situation is patently obvious.

5. We spent the last two days car shopping/buying. We usually run our cars into the ground. One of the oldest ones was nearly in the grave and it was beyond time to replace it. After several hours we were finally successful. But it was exhausting, as everyone who has shopped for a decent used vehicle knows.

6. I really dislike car shopping.

7. I am fortunate to have a family who, on the whole, is willing to try new recipes for dinner. Tonight for the first time I made polenta. It was eaten and a number of suggestions (reasonable ones!) made for tweaking it to suit the preferences of the diners. It will certainly be tried again.

8. Work is improving. Suggestions for improved safety and convenience have been listened to and acted upon. However, the air conditioning still doesn't work and the roof still leaks. Last Friday afternoon there was a lightning strike somewhere very close and the result was the loss of all computers, office phones, and other functions. It took nearly 24 hours to be repaired. For 24 hours very little got accomplished. Total reliance on computers for all office functions can really backfire.

9. I've been told I'm getting a raise in August. This should be interesting.

10. All the recent family health issues are either resolved or are getting there. Contrary to some earlier opinions, no one's health has been permanently affected.

11. My good knitblogging friend Kathy has nominated me to be a Rockin' Girl Blogger. Pretty cool to be a grandmother AND a Rockin' Girl Blogger. (No, I don't think Kathy was refering to a rocking chair, either! ;-) ) So I know I'm supposed to nominate five other bloggers for the honor. Julie, Annie, Roxie, Dipsy, and Laura all get my vote, even if they've already been nominated by others. Honestly, every blogger I read is a Rockin Blogger! So if no one's nominated you yet, consider yourself tagged by me! And thank you, Kathy, for making my day!

12. Maria went to the Grand Canyon a week ago. She took this picture in mid afternoon with the storm clouds rolling in. There is nowhere to escape!!!

Especially if you're a grasshopper.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 29, 2007

July 007

July is the time for the monsoon rains. From being a "dry" heat -- as in extremely low humidity -- we suddenly find ourselves dealing with overwhelming humidity. The cooler no longer works and swamp-like atmospheres prevail. I still hang out sheets and laundry to dry, but now they take several hours to dry instead of minutes.

Invariably the storm clouds begin to form, usually by late afternoon but sometimes as early as midmorning. I can see the storms in the distance. They usually begin over the mountains and then spread to the valleys. Lines of thunderstorms, often severe, form up and march across the high desert. Blue skies are now not necessarily the norm; massive cloud formations and grey skies take their place.

The rain comes, swift and torretial. The yard out back sometimes turns into a large pond; the street in front into a racing river. Flooding occurs at street corners, and otherwise dry streambeds become dangerously flooded. Despite warnings not to cross them, some fools always do and there are several deaths each summer from those who try to cross flooded roads. Sometimes after the violent storm cell passes, we are treated to an hour or so of gentle, soaking rain. This is the best part. The air becomes so clear, cool, and fresh!

Along with the rains come the grasshoppers. This young lad sat still long enough for me to take his picture. This has been a very bad year for grasshoppers, so far. When Buddy and I walk around the block, we see a couple hundred at least. The numbers are terrible; there are grasshoppers everywhere. As you walk, they jump up in alarm but never look where they are jumping. They jump on Buddy; they jump onto my shirt. The birds are having a field day. Feasting wherever you look! And don't leave any windows open. Last week while driving I went to grab the turn signal and grabbed a grasshopper instead!

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rocks and Flowers

The first River Rocks sock is finished. It was done exactly as the pattern calls for, except for doing a slip stitch heel flap. The Koigu held out, but there wasn't a whole lot left; probably enough to do one more pattern repeat if I had needed it. I did six pattern repeats on the leg and six on the foot for a total of twelve down the length of the sock. The second is cast on and working.

More flowers are blooming in the front yard. Bird-of-Paradise grows on the far side of the driveway and blooms reliably each summer.
And the mimosa trees are still blooming. They started in May and still flower now that the summer rains are here. There's plenty to keep that little bee busy.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Walk With Me Wednesday and See What Grows

I picked the first Big Jim pepper a couple days ago, and I thought then that it's been awhile since I took you on a walk through the garden to see what's growing. Basil, sage, oregano, purple coneflower, Baja primrose, and plenty more peppers. The pears are doing well and should be ripe in about another four weeks. The rains are here and they are doing the irrigation work for me now. Of course the weeds are springing up as well. I hand pull the ones I can, but the really tough desert natives will get a dose of herbicide to be sure no deep lingering roots remain to sprout again. Some of the native weeds and some non-native weeds are very invasive and we get urged to destroy them on sight. But the natives that flower nicely will get a pass and will be encouraged to drop as many seeds as they like for blooms next year.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 23, 2007

River Rocks Monkey Socks

It's not been as hot here as it had been a couple weeks ago, but the humidity has gone up into the 80 percentiles and that's very humid for out in the desert. It means that the swamp cooler isn't good for much except to put on the blower and let it blow air around the house. Not much cooling, but at least it moves the air a bit. It also means that I break out in total drenching sweats at minimal provocation. Therefore knitting of only the most minimal is taking place.

Socks are perfect for this. I had a couple hanks of Koigu color P 137 that were marinating in the stash for quite a while, and I decided that I simply couldn't wait any longer. The colors are wonderful; very muted but very detailed. They make me think of rocks in the bottom of a riverbed. Blues and grays, as well as the sandy browns and touches of green weeds amidst the blues of the water. There is nothing like an ice-cold mountain stream to dunk one's feet in after hiking. Many times I have stripped off hiking shoes and heavy hiking socks to bath my swollen, sweaty feet in a stream in Grand Canyon or Zion. The cold water cools the blood and the body, as well as reducing any swelling or puffyness.

But what pattern to use to best utilize the yarn? Obviously I chose the very popular Monkey socks pattern, but not until I had combed the Ravelry files and decided that this pattern would suit the Koigu to a T. Ravelry, I've decided, is really wonderful for this sort of thing. By grouping pictures all together, one can see very easily and with no internet searching how other knitters have worked a particular pattern and all the different yarns they have used. It made my decision very simple, and I am madly in love with the results.

However, Ravelry did get me off on a bit of a wrong foot. Pun intended. I noticed that many knitters of this pattern used Size 1 needles with the Koigu. So I merrily began knitting with my US1's, only to find out about half way down the leg that this was really coming out too small. So I frogged the thing and started over again with US2's. The thing is spot on now and I have turned the heel on the first sock and am heading madly down the foot. I only hope that I don't run out of yarn before I finish the toe. If that happens, I'll just have to frog back and make the leg a bit shorter. I hope not; I'm really anxious to wear these socks. And maybe one of these days I'll actually get back to the poor hibernating Welsh Country Stockings.
Buddy says, "Is it time to go for a walk yet, Mom?"

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Flowers of the Night

Another of Joe's cactus bloomed earlier this week. I can't tell you what the name of this cactus is. For many years it bloomed in the front yard of Nana's house near Phoenix, and one year Joe dug up some of the little offshoots and planted them in our front yard. They do not bloom every year, so when it does it is quite an occasion.

Several weeks ago, two tiny buds appeared at the top of two of the cactus stalks, signalling that this would be a year for blooms. Then, last weekend, the buds began to rapidly enlarge. This is what they looked like on Monday afternoon.
All evening we watched them and as darkness fell, the flowers of the night burst into full glory.
The air near them was filled with a mild, gardenia-like scent.
In the early Tuesday morning light, the flowers maintained their beauty and freshness.

However, as the day progressed, the heat and humidity took their toll, as they always do, and by late Tuesday afternoon there was only a faded remnant of the cactus flowers.

Out of an entire year, only 24 hours of amazing beauty and fragrance.

Next time, a new sock, a new pattern, a new yarn.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hiking With Buddy on Wednesday

Last Saturday, Mike took Buddy for a hike up in the mountains. Buddy loved it. They saw lots of lady bugs and ate wild berries.

Mike and Buddy also took along another of Mike's friends. One of the female persuasion.

That Buddy. What a chick magnet!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Trekking II Socks

Pattern: Simple Trekking Socks by Miriam Felton
Yarn: Trekking XXL Color 106
Needles: US Size 1 DPNS
I did an extra 7 stitch ribbing band at the toe just to make it a bit longer. Otherwise worked as written.


Blocks for Greensburg

Pattern: 8 inch Bias Square
Needles: US Size 7 straights
Yarn: Various
Knit for Rebuilding Greensburg, mailed out today. Although each yarn I used was worsted weight, and I kept measuring, each one seems to have turned out a different size. No matter; I'm sure that they will all be put to good use.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Everyone's Gone To The Ravelry

It seems harder to find a knitter around anymore, unless you look on Ravelry. Anytime I go over there, even late in the evening, there are a couple hundred users on the site at the same time. I know that they are still adding members, and the site seems huge as it is! I'm still working on uploading my projects (very slowly), and haven't even begun to add my stash yarns and my needle inventory. My downfall is the project pages. I'm losing hours browsing around there. And by adding the ones I like to my queu, I can go back and find the project notes and the folks currently knitting it, with pictures of the individual projects easy to find and compare. How useful!

I've joined four of the groups, and more groups are being added to the site daily. It certainly is fun to play around there.

Work continues to plod along. The air conditioning still only works when it wants to; only the old office phones are working. The computer has found a couple new and creative ways to stop being useful. There is a mouse living somewhere in the storage area. And the roof still leaks. And some of the new plumbing fixtures had to be replaced, already. At least I am only working regular hours this week. Next week, who knows?

Joe planted a little cactus a couple years ago. It refuses to grow any way except sideways. But each year it blooms madly. These are the blooms for this week, and my contribution to Friday's Flowers.

Have a great weekend! See you at the Ravelry!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Walk With Me Out East on Wednesday

While out east last month, much and plenty of walking was done. It was certainly not as hot, humid, and rain-less as it is in Arizona right now. At least in my part of Arizona. All the green in these pictures makes me feel good. And the water looks like pure heaven.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Physical Therapy

There is probably no better therapy for nerves that are shot to pieces than to knit with lovely, soft, and/or satisfyingly colored yarns. I've been working on the second Trekking sock when I can get the chance and am ready for the little sock needles. The play of colors in the Trekking is so soothing to the eye, and the feel of the wool on my fingers is elementally comforting. I'd really like to get these finished up soon. Perhaps if there is some down time at work this week -- hopefully the phones and the air conditioning are fixed -- I will get to do exactly that.

If I'm looking for something easy to knit, I work on bias squares for Rebuilding Greensburg. I've got plenty of yarn I could use for the squares, and I imagine that I will knit away on these until at some point I decide it's time to mail them off to Laura. Knitting on these -- any charity knitting -- is always guaranteed to make me feel better.

Finally, if I'm really in need of the ultimate comfort knitting, I reach for little Felicity's Moderne Baby Blanket. The Plymouth Dreambaby yarn is so soft, and I find the rows and rows of garter stitich to be endlessly soothing. I resisted getting Mason Dixon Knitting for a long time, but now it is one of my favorite books. I always smile when I pick it up. Who would have thought that plain old garter stitch could be so popular?

Then there is another kind of physical therapy, the one which involves pushing the proper computer buttons. This morning, when I checked my email, I found the news of Knitpicks 40% off books sale. So I promptly indulged in a little physical therapy of the library variety. Oh, and of the sock yarn variety as well.

Of course, taking Buddy for a walk also is good physical therapy. Especially when the evening sky looks like this.

Labels: , , , , ,