Friday, January 29, 2010

Nighttime in Gothic

The moon was especially bright tonight because full moon is tomorrow and there were no clouds in the sky.  It inspired some nighttime photography.  Thayer and I purchased a new camera this summer and we're still learning how to make it work.  Fussing around with exposure length and ISO, I got these.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Green Sweater

Over the past week, we've gotten about 40'' of snowfall in Gothic- that's over three feet, for the math-challenged.  It's been very picturesque with snow falling nearly all day, every day, but I was still very happy to wake up to this.  Look at the snow on top of Ender- the cabin in the lower left corner.  That is a lot of snow.

[T - I had to finally go outside and shovel out our southern windows.  The hobby room ones had several inches of snow piling up, and the main window was approaching a foot of snow near one side.  It's because as snow falls off our roof, it builds up a little hill against the window - the actual outside snow level is still below the sill, although not by much anymore.  It's all cleared away now, which was fun - from all the dripping from the roof a lot of it was pretty icy.  I got to use the big hammer to turn it into chunks, which was fun.]
Not that this is going to last- we're expecting more snow later this weekend.  In the midst of all this snow, I've made massive sweater progress.  This is the body of the sweater, which I completed a few days ago.  To the left you see the bottom hem of the sweater.  As you move to the right, you see some waist shaping that I added, and then two funny pouchy-looking things on string.  Those will become the sleeves.  It's knit in the round all the way up to the shoulders.  Which means... steeks!
As excerpted from the Wikipedia article on steeks:

In knitting, steeking is a shortcut used to knit garments such as sweaters in the round without interruption for openings or sleeves until the end. After completing a tube, a straight line is cut along the center of a column of stitches, in order to make room for an opening or place to attach another piece. The steek itself is a bridge of extra stitches, in which the cut is made, and is usually 6-10 stitches wide. This technique was developed by the knitters of the Shetland archipelago and is particularly associated with Fair Isle sweaters, although it can be used for solid colors as well.

So.... steeks.  I have four on this sweater.  First, it's a cardigan, so I will cut down the middle to open it up.  Then, there are two sleeve steeks and a neck sleeve.  To ensure that my sweater doesn't just unravel when I cut it (nightmare inducing), I crocheted along stitches on either side of where I was going to cut.  Note that my yarn (alpaca-wool blend) is less "sticky hairy" (Wikipedia's words, not mine) than the Shetland wool commonly used for steeking.
And then I cut in between those two light-green, crocheted edges.  As you can see, my sweater did not instantaneously unravel into a pile of useless green scraps of yarn.  So... success!

I did that four times before picking up stitches for a sleeve.  You can kind of see here that the waist shaping I added appears to fit pretty darn well!  Yay!
And two days later, a full 3/4 length sleeve.
In non-knitting news, Linda (one of Thayer's family friends) and her sister are coming out to stay with us for a few days.  We're so excited for their Saturday arrival!

[T - we're hoping it will be nice and sunny so that the skiing and the sled pulling goes fast, because a little crust goes a long way, especially with the ol' sled.  Here's to hoping Linda and Leanne manage to pack light!]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I have a new fun toy: wordle.  It makes fun little word clouds for any website or entered text.  Here's the wordle for the past few posts on our blog.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A knitting post

This post will be (almost entirely) knitting-related, so feel free to avert your eyes.
First, I wanted to share some of the Christmas presents that I've been working on over the past few months.  Here is a stranded earflap hat that I made for my dad.

And here are a pair of mittens made for my mom.

And these mittens have a matching scarf:

It's knit lengthwise on circular needles in garter stitch- i.e. really, really easy, with a lovely finished product.
And here is the shawl I gave to Thayer's mom, Carolyn.

I made a set of cotton dishcloths for my Grandma and Grandpa True.  Thayer carved some lovely buttons for them.

And here is the shawl that I made for Callie (you saw it's beginning in another post).

I sent it with one of the shawl pins that I had carved.  The yarn color is most accurate here.

And now I want to show you what I'm working on at the moment.  I had previously talked about the sweater that I'm making.  I just started it two days ago (once we had retrieved the yarn from the post office).  Here is what it will look like when finished (hopefully).

I'm adding some waist shaping to make it a little less boxy.  Here is my schematic

And my progress thus far.  It's a really lovely alpaca/wool blend in a nice heathered green color.  I'm so excited for this to be finished!!!

I'm also working on a hat for myself.   When finished, it should look something like this (photo taken from Twist Collective- a very, very cool site featuring patterns from the top knitwear designers).

Here is my progress- part of the first earflap.  It's kind of slow going, as it's knit on size 0 needles.

And of course, there is my wedding shawl, which I've been working on for nearly a year.  The yarn is a lovely mint-green cobweb/laceweight wool- Jade Sapphire's Lacey Lamb.  When finished (or rather, if ever finished, because it's taking FOREVER), it will be V-shaped with a nice border.  It's knit on size 0 needles.  So far, I've finished the triangle and almost one of the arms (with a shoe for scale).

Well, I think that's about it on the knitting front.  Of course there are some other minor projects in the works (socks, yoga mat bag, socks, etc.), but this is how I'm spending the majority of my knitting time.

Of course, we're doing things other than knitting.  I made some bread yesterday.

And we've gotten quite a lot of snow.  It's been snowing off and on for the past week, and that's expected to continue over the next few days.

[T - today since it's beautiful and sunny we get to shovel off various lab things that don't like being completely buried under snow]

Saturday, January 16, 2010

We skied into town today, to pick up packages of our Christmas presents, sent by our parents.  The weather was just amazing- mid-30's and brilliantly sunny.  Also, there's a class from Western State Uni up here studying our snowshoe hares, and since many of them skied in yesterday, the trail was amazingly well-packed.  All in all, it made for an enjoyable (and fast) ski.  Here are some photos taken on the way back, looking towards Gothic (as always, click for a bigger version).

Remember when we used to have these guys at our window?  I am so bummed that the marmots are hibernating now.

Friday, January 8, 2010

After a whirlwind tour of the Midwest and a full day of traveling, Thayer and I arrived back in Gates Cabin yesterday afternoon.  Our trip was wonderful- we spent three days in Minneapolis and about three days in Libertyville.  In Minneapolis, we got to attend Claire and Sam's wedding, which was beautiful and happy.  We also spent a great amount of time with Thayer's parents, Carolyn and CR.  I thoroughly took advantage of being back in civilization by visiting a yarn store, REI, and Starbucks.  Libertyville was likewise wonderful; I visited a yarn store there, too!  We had some great time to reconnect with my parents, saw my grandparents for 'Christmas dinner', and visited my sister, Kate, in Chicago.  We went to lunchies with her near DePaul, and then spent a (too short) afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo.  It was very very fun, and even though it was much colder then we're used to, it wasn't too horrible being outside.  Although I have to admit that the gray weather in Chicago was definitely not appreciated.

[T - the trip went by way too fast, but we got to do pretty much all that we meant to, at least.  I was so happy seeing Claire and Sam getting married!  There weren't really any shops that I wanted to go to, although I looked at snowshoes at REI, just because I was curious.  There's no way I'm investing in winter gear when I might be going somewhere that doesn't even get regular snow.  They're pretty cool though.  It was kind of weird being in climate controlled houses.  Our cabin is so much more variable in temperature!  I also missed our wood stove.  It's so cozy to make a happy little fire in it and feel it warm up nice and toasty, not to mention that it's just pretty having a fire.  It's weird how much sunnier it is here in Gothic in the winter, but I never really thought about it until we were in the midwest and nothing really get particularly bright and the sky can be overcast for no reason. 

The culture shock at being back in civilization for a bit wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it might be.  Complicated traffic was kind of overwhelming, and Jessica and I found we had a much lower threshold for loud stupid people after being completely isolated from anything irritating like that, but it was pretty manageable.  TV was kind of exciting.  Jessica and I actually enjoyed watching commercials, because they were pretty much all new to us.  We also enjoyed having food that wasn't our usual selection of cabin food!  We took full advantage of it. 

We also went to Avatar in 3D at an IMAX theater near Jessica's house, and Ebert doesn't exaggerate when he says it is a genre defining movie.  I'm sure I would have enjoyed it a lot in 2D, as I found the characters lovable and the plot fun in a predictable/cute way, but in 3D it's nothing that has ever been done before.  It is by far the most immersed I've ever been in a movie.  It made me want to go into the world.  After a bit, I stopped thinking about how it was 3D and just thinking about how the world was so unbelievably real.  It's the first time I've fully accepted CGI without having that niggling awareness that it's not "real."  I have been unfavorably comparing CGI monsters and spaceships to the classic 80's models up until this point, but I just have to say that especially the CGI ships in this I loved and admired just as much as any model.  The whole movie is kinda like if Fern Gully had special effects that swept me away. Well, and if Crysta's grandmother was instead Sigourney Weaver.  There were some things Jessica and I would have changed, and the script isn't going to make you stare deep into your soul, but we didn't really care.

Also, I think it's the first movie I've ever seen with a horse running around on fire.  It's a CGI alien horse, but still.]

I used some Christmas money from my Grandma and Grandpa True to buy this wonderful gorgeous handpainted yarn in Minneapolis.  It's a silk and wool blend, made by Mountain Colors- one of my absolute favorite yarn manufacturers.

It will eventually become this shawl

This is how far I am on it now (thankfully the often-overzealous TSA people did not take away my needles)

Also, I received yarn and the pattern to make Elizabeth Zimmerman's green cardigan (you can see it here).  Yay- so much knitting fun for the next few months!!!  And speaking of knitting, now that I've given away Christmas presents, I'll be able to show you (maybe tomorrow) what I've been working on over the past few months.

Even though our visits were wonderful and far too short, we are so happy to be back in Gothic.  I mean, where else will you see this?

Gothic has welcomed us back with sunny weather in the low 30's- life is good.  I figured out how to take widescreen photos with our camera, so I'll leave you with this image from the day before we left for our trip.