Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another round -for me and Butler!

There's excitement all around in the VeryBadDog House

Just in case anyone's not paying attention to the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the Butler Bulldogs, a team from a school of 4,500, defeated the #1 seeded Syracuse Orange to go to the Elite Eight. It's nice to see the hometown team do well. Max is likely to become a basketball fan, as I did my best to secure Butler's victory tonight by feeding him orange segments, figuring he's sufficiently bulldog-like to bring good luck. And it worked - or something did. Max was more than happy to help, and would really appreciate it if the next opponent had a cheeseburger mascot.

I'll also be advancing to another round, for Sock Madness. I managed to finish the sideways socks at Knit Night on Tuesday, and even got in a little knitting on my sweater. We're told the next pattern will be coming out on Friday, so there's not much of a break. I'm glad they didn't seed us into a tournament bracket, because my performance was pretty unimpressive. I think I was second to last to finish - but finishing was all that mattered this time around. Next time, I have to finish fast.

So I'm grateful to Butler for getting so far into the tournament. It gives me a good excuse to sit and watch TV. Round 2, here I come!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Signs of Spring

I woke up this morning to find this, the first daffodil shoot. By lunchtime there were two others.

I hope there will be many more. Last fall I planted 50 daffodil bulbs, mostly in the front yard, so we're hoping they'll sprout. It's been a cold winter, so it's hard to know what will happen. Spring in a new house turns out to be something of a adventure, as we don't know what's going to pop up. It looks like we're going to have quite a few tulips, and some pretty little blue flowers are spreading from our neighbors' yard.

One thing we can be sure of is some sort of garden. Aaron went out yesterday and bought 700 pounds of rabbit droppings (you can find anything on Craigslist), intending to use them to fill a raised bed. There were so many that he built a second bed for them! I know he's planning all sorts of good things - tomatoes, greens, asparagus, rhubarb, peppers....and I really want to find space for some berries and some herbs. The first bed was composting all winter, so it should be ready for plants soon. Now we just have to get through these sunny days without giving in to temptation to plant too early - I think the last frost date is May 1. But I may have to start some seeds indoors so it will feel like spring - the sunshine makes it seem like it's really here!

(And yes, I'm still knitting the sideways socks. Picking up stitches for the heels and toes takes a long time, but I hope I'll be able to finish in time.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March Madness

This time it's the real thing.

I've never thought of myself as a real sports fan. Sure, there's the auto racing. And you kind of have to like the Cubs, on principle. And then there's the Colts - although I really only started paying attention to football to be polite to Aaron, at least until I found out how hot the players are.

That didn't mean I was into basketball. Not really.

I don't seem to have much choice in the matter. Things are going well for every team I'd have to care about. Purdue is progressing through the NCAA bracket, as is Butler. We can be cautiously optimistic about both teams - Purdue is short a good player, and Butler is an awfully small school (and just had a painfully close game), but either could keep going for awhile. We used to go to all the games at Hinkle Fieldhouse when I was a kid, so Butler's sort of the hometown team.

But now I've married into a Kentucky family.....which may make me a blue-blood, of the "bleeds blue and white" sort. They take their basketball very seriously in Lexington - so seriously that this life-sized poster of DeMarcus Cousins was published, section-by-section, in the Lexington newspaper. We celebrated Aaron's father's imminent retirement and some of his colleagues brought this out and encouraged everyone to see how they'd measure up to the 6'11" Cousins. Not very far, in my case - I don't even come up to his tattoo.

So now I'm cheering for three teams. Theoretically, they could all make it to the Final Four, so I don't have to pick a favorite until then. But I think I'd like having a life-size poster a lot better if it were of Blue II.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Progress and Parties and Pi

After such a good start you'd think I'd have more knitting done, but I'm afraid I'm not there yet. I have half a sock, and it's the easy half.

This is the tube part of Sock #1. I've never had the Kitchener-hating that seems to crop up among knitters, but doing this long graft wasn't a lot of fun. Since I'm worried about the short yardage in a Jitterbug skein I'm going to knit the second tube before I start adding heels and toes and cuffs, just in case I have to add in a second yarn. I have to say I like the way the Jitterbug has striped, even if I'm not so confident about the fit. I think the foot is a bit longer than it needs to be, and the cuff a bit tight. But there will be some room to finesse things once I'm adding the other parts, so I'm optimistic that everything will turn out all right.

I've had Other Things On My Mind lately - we hosted a potluck for the Math Department on Friday, so I spent a couple of days cleaning and cooking, and then another day recovering. We had a great time, and were able to celebrate Pi day today with a delicious apple pie, thanks to some generously left leftovers. I contributed my own dessert (so cookie decorating ate knitting time) - sugar cookies decorated either for Illinois Wesleyan or St. Patrick's day, whichever seems appropriate.

This week is Spring Break, so soon we'll be getting ready to head to our respective hometowns for a few days each. I like trips home, because I can get Aaron to drive and have lots of knitting time in the car. I have to make a "reasonable effort" at knitting my sideways socks to qualify to get the rest of the Sock Madness patterns, and I'd really like to be able to make it to Round 4 this year. So I'll have a lot of knitting to do in the next week.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sock Madness Begins

Or Oops, I Did it Again.

Not that I need any more knitting stress - but well, who can turn down Sock Madness, especially when I'm from the home of March Madness? The first pattern came out yesterday, so I've spent Much Too Much time knitting.

This is a first for Sock Madness - a sideways sock. I love the look of sideways socks but haven't had good luck with them in the past, so I really hope this one will turn out to be a sock that fits. Unlike the Sidewinder, this sock is knit as a tube, and then stitches are picked up for the heel, toe, and cuff. That should give a little wiggle room to improve the fit.

I'm using Jitterbug yarn, since the pattern recommendation called for something crazy. And now I have two weeks to knit, in order to qualify for Round 2 of Sock Madness.

I had a pleasant surprise in today's mail - free Spa yarn from Caron! Caron was doing a "Try Our New Yarn" giveaway on Facebook awhile ago, and I was one of the lucky people who got my request in early. I don't know how big a fan I'll be - there's a high acrylic content in all of the "naturally Caron" yarns - but it's nice and soft, and I'm sure it will work well for something. Something to knit after Sock Madness, that is.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Start Crazy

Any post-Olympics of pre-Sock Madness resolve I had about finishing some works in progress has disappeared. It helps that I realized I have until May to finish Elizabeth's socks, so Sock Madness won't interfere with my Sock Day Club knitting. (Are you amazed that Aaron can keep all my sock activities straight? I would be, but I'm not sure that he does. I think he just smiles and humors me when he hears the word "sock.") I started two projects yesterday, and will likely begin a third as soon as I can get to a yarn store.

The first project is a Sock Monkey Hat, for my chemo cap collection. When Cindy and her friends did Walk For the Cure, "Marty's Monkeys" was their team name. So I think she'll be amused by it, and I hope its eventual recipient will be. This is also Plymouth Encore Chunky, with some regular Encore held double for the mouth, because I couldn't find all of the sock monkey colors I needed in Chunky in one place, and driving around from one store to another trying to assemble a complete monkey kit would have driven me completely crazy. I'm pretty sure this will be finished by Spring Break, so that will be two caps, at the very least.

Project #2 is a sweater. The last one was so much fun - and I felt so good about finishing it, that I thought I'd go ahead and try another. (We're going to ignore the 4 sweaters I have on the needles, right?) I'm using some Knit Picks Wool of the Andes that Debbie gave me as part of her fiberalong destash, and I'm making the Drop-Stitch Lace Tank from Fitted Knits. Last week's mega-shopping trip left me with a lovely white shirt that one simply must wear something over or under, so this sweater should be a good match. I don't know if I can expect to finish this one in two weeks - although this picture is just a single day's knitting - a couple of episodes of Bobby Flay's Throwdown - so it should progress pretty quickly.

Project #3 will be a copy of the hats the US Olympic team wore for the Opening Ceremonies. Even if I have to buy yarn, I'm pretty sure I can get the hat for less than $75.00. When my official Ravelympics Pin (with an adorable picture of Bob the Dog) arrives, I can wear it on my new hat.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

It's Really Over

It's still sinking in that the Olympics are over, but since I've finished what was supposed to be my second Olympic project, they really must be.

This is Wavy Gravy #10, intended as a chemo cap. One of my sisters lost a dear friend to breast cancer right around Christmas, so I'm making a handful of chemo caps to be donated in Martini's memory. It's a surprise, but I'm pretty sure my sister doesn't keep up with my knitting. Because it's a chemo cap it needs to be nice and soft, so I've used Plymouth Encore Chunky - Encore is my go-to yarn for non-knitters. It has more acrylic than I'd use for myself, but it's nice and soft and durable. I hope to get a few more caps done before spring break, because then I could hand them off to my sister so she could donate them.

Here's another sign that the Olympics are finally over, along with the Olympic knitting. After three days of stalking Ravelry, I've received my Bob-bedecked medal:

along with this Franklin design from the Yarn Harlot. I first came to read Franklin's blog because of a conversation on Laurie R. King's blog about his 2006 medal, so it's especially exciting to have one of my own. I'm totally fine with the guy being naked.

Now I really should return to other useful things - working on the house, finishing knit Christmas presents, maybe even washing dishes or doing laundry. And maybe I'll squeeze a few of those in. But I signed up for Sock Madness today, and the new pattern will come out within a week or so. Organizing the stash is sort of like cleaning house, right?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

So, what now?

It's hard to believe the Olympics are over.

I've been wandering around the house in something of a daze, picking up the TV remote and then putting it down again when I realize it won't show me curling.

I've been a little dazed about the knitting, too. I started a Wavy Gravy Hat during the closing ceremonies, but chose post-ceremony sleep over progress and a chance at another medal. So it's about 1/3 finished, and I expect I'll make a lot more progress at Sit, Sip, and Knit tonight. Still, I haven't really wanted to knit much - which is weird as all get-out, I think. Or maybe not - perhaps post-sweater letdown is perfectly normal.

There's another project that I'm very excited about, and eager to knit - I just can't show or write anything about it. The Lafayette knitters have revived the Sock Day Club for another round, and I'm not going to let a 2-hour drive keep me from joining in.

The first round of socks will go to Elizabeth, and I love the socks I'm making for her. I love having a good excuse to knit these socks. I hope she'll love them as much as I do.

I just can't show them, because they're a surprise for Elizabeth. But come May, everyone will have a chance to love these socks!