Monday, September 21, 2009

Import Export

Now I don't usually profess to be much of a techie, but in recent days I've been confronted by some serious work on the computer front. Right now, I am feeling hugely proud of myself, because despite the fact that I've had the house to get shipshape after three months of kids at home, food to cook, soccer games to attend and knitting to see to, I have achieved the impossible!

I have exported my blog to another address.

It's a long story actually. About a year ago, not long after I started writing Wilde Thyme Knits, I had a major catastrophe......I accidently DELETED my blog! I know....pretty dumb really, but what can I say? It takes just one slip of the finger and life can never be the same again.

I wrote to Blogger....... I wrote to Blogger again.....I joined the throngs of people begging Blogger to PLEASE retrieve their beloved blogs.

Nothing. Not even a "Tweet" to say they'd received my pleading missive (and let's face it, they have intimate connections with Twitter, so a small microblog would not have been too much to ask.) Still nothing. I resigned myself to starting again with another url and have been saddled with a "TER" on the end of "KNIT" ever since. I've checked back with Blogger periodically over the past year, just in case I could get them to acknowledge my existence, but again nothing.

During a recent sojourn into Blogland, I made the discovery that Blogger was permitting access to old addresses again. Aside from the fact that by now I'd forgotten which e-mail ID and password I'd used to set up my original account, what I did discover was that I could now create a new blog attached to my old Expat blog account using my original url

My life was complete.

This weekend I bravely created the new blog, exported the old to my desktop and then imported it from there to the new site. Can you believe it? I was holding my breath, I can tell you. A year's worth of work was on the line after all. But I did it! The only problem was that none of the features transferred with the posts, so I've spent several hours rebuilding parts of the site. This has also given me the opportunity for a bit of a face lift, so I've changed to a new template too.

My new found techie abilities saw me multi tasking on the way home from walking The Little Guy to school this morning too. As my text inbox on my cell phone was so full that it couldn't take any more messages, I decided to delete during the ten minute stroll back up the hill. I walked and deleted, crossed roads and deleted, all the while making this "ding dong" noise as each one of the 90 texts got erased from my inbox. (Talk about cleaning up! I've gone into over drive.) The final text was deleted just as I reached my front door.

So I've cleaned up, sorted out and am settling into a new blogging home now. Please come over and join me. Leave a comment to let me know you've arrived or join my Google followers. The kettle's on, the welcome's warm, I'd love to see you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Round Up

Well, I finally managed to set a side a little time yesterday to finish some items. Now that my home is finally kid-free and guest-free, I took a small break from the clearing up and sat down to face the Lacy Top that I'd almost forgotten about in my WIP's basket. With summer almost over now, I decided that I really should face the dreaded sewing stage on this cotton item. After all, we are only talking about 2 underarm seams and a few ends to sew in. Not exactly a mammoth task.

I lay the piece out on the table and prepared to bite the bullet. With my High Schoolers sneezing and snorting behind me (they've been off sick and it's only the first week!) I picked up my needle and scissors and got started.

Boy, do I HATE sewing seams. Even when I do the glorious invisible seams that give you a great sense of satisfaction as you draw up the thread and watch the knitted stitches slide together as if they totally belong that way. For some reason, I just hate having to sew after all that knitting. The only needle I want my garments to see is a knitting needle.

Despite the fact that the Lacy Top is a top down construction, the pattern requires you to cast on over the cast off stitches of the arm holes, thus requiring seaming at the end. How I wished that I'd just picked up and avoided the sewing entirely.

I know, it's pathetic!.....Two little underarm seams.......and I'm making so much fuss.

I walked to pick up The Little Guy from school inbetween armholes, hoping that the fresh air would improve my mood. No luck. What can I say? I just don't like sewing. Thankfully, I've finished and am now blocking the top. Hopefully I'll get to wear it as an early autumn piece, layered over the top of a plain T-shirt.

Another project that I made a decision on is the lace curtain. What was I thinking??? Loved the idea.......but the time, my friends, I just don't have enough of it! As much as I hate to admit that "The Husband" was right all along and will delight in my defeat, I JUST CAN'T DO IT ANY MORE!
In an effort to streamline my projects, I decided to abandon my dreams of lightweight English lace floating in the summer breeze and settle for a piece of heavyweight US lace that the previous owner of my house left behind! One small strip is perfect hanging from a cafe curtain rod in the downstairs bathroom and has the added bonus of keeping more of that NW chill out when winter arrives.
Finally, I just popped over to Jared Flood's blog and caught this terrific piece about an original EZ cardigan that he's been lucky enough to be asked to photograph. Following my own recent Elizabeth Zimmermann encounters, I can recommend it as an encouraging read.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For Want Of A Zipper........

................the race was lost.

Yes, despite my best efforts, I just couldn't manage to get that "Tomten" jacket finished in time for my parents departure back to the UK at 5pm on Sunday night. With the weekend packed full of events like 'The Little Guy's' first soccer game of the season and a tourist trip to the local Ice Caves, I just ran out of time.

I did try hard. I knit the final border up the front and around the hood on Friday night, which made a superb finish. My plan then was to sew in all the ends, stitch up the sleeve seams and then put in the 16" zipper. The problem was, I only had a 10" zip in my stash (it's a zip because I bought it in England and that's what we call them there.)

After Saturday morning's soccer game, I raced to my LYS in the vague hope that my friend might have a secret supply of zippers hidden away somewhere. No luck. Even the swift round of phonecalls she made to local quilting stores along my proposed route to the ice caves that afternoon, proved fruitless. Looking at my schedule, there was just no way that I could fit in a drive to the city, just to pick up a zipper and then get said zipper stitched correctly into the garment.

I gave up.

The jacket is rather on the large side, so there's plenty of growing room knitted into it, I reasoned. There really is no rush to get it off to my niece. Pride was also beginning to take over. Did I really want to rush the finishing touches on this project? Haste would only raise the odds of making a gargantuan mistake at the last hurdle. Did I really want to risk that?

The answer was "No!"

So where is the "Tomten" now? Sitting in my basket of WIP's. After all, when the pressure's off, what's a knitter to do?

Why, cast on for something new ofcourse. =)

PS. If you're in the UK, check out BBC2 at 8.45pm on Wed 16th Sept and see my cousin, James Bumpass, boning an oxtail on "Masterchef!"

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Poor Craftsman Always Blames His Tools

I came across this article this morning from one of my favourite financial blogs, "Get Rich Slowly." It talks about how to evaluate potential purchases and encourages us to think about our needs versus our wants. The author is building a new home, which will require a new kitchen. Or will it?

Having come across an article by food writer Mark Bittman entitled, "So Your Kitchen Is Tiny. So What?" it led her to question her reasons for wanting fancy new kitchen appliances. Do the appliances make the cook or is the art of cooking just that; an ability no matter how good your tools are?

Bittman, who writes The Minimalist column in The New York Times, describes in this article how he makes do with only 42 square feet of kitchen space. He writes:

[Chefs and food writers] know that when it comes to kitchens, size and equipment don’t count nearly as much as devotion, passion, common sense and, of course, experience.
To pretend otherwise — to spend tens of thousands of dollars or more on a kitchen before learning how to cook, as is sadly common — is to fall into the same kind of silly consumerism that leads people to believe that an expensive gym membership will get them into shape or the right bed will improve their sex life. As runners run and writers write, cooks cook, under pretty much any circumstance.

This got me thinking about knitting (just to make a change.) Are we really only as good as the quality of the tools we use or is the fact that we can knit really the most important thing?

Last week I attended the first ever meeting of our local Knitter's Guild. It was a wonderful evening and one of the funniest parts was the game, "Can You Knit With This?" Knitters were asked to delve into a brown paper carrier bag and pluck out two regular household items to knit with. What a riot! In the space of 3 minutes our valiant volunteers created fabric using everything from a wooden spoon to a whisk!

Frankly, I think this proves that true skill will prevail no matter what the circumstances. A real artist can create in any situation and it is the act of doing that is fundamental to developing that skill.

Now, I'm not advocating that you grab the turkey baster from the kitchen and set to with gusto, but don't let the quality of your tools and yarn stop you from creating wonderful objects. After all "sticks and string" really are all you need to create beautiful works of knitted art.

PS: I'm on the last sleeve!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Race Against Time

Pattern: "Tomten" by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Materials: Plymouth Encore

Needles: US 8

I don't know how it happens, but somehow I always manage to turn a nice gentle knitting project into a race against time. Maybe I just have this deep desire to add spice to a simple project or perhaps I just get a kick out of self-imposed deadlines? Who knows. What I do know is that my glorious garter stitch project, which was supposed to lead me gently, in a 'California cruisin' style into the autumn, has suddenly become a race against time to complete. Maybe it's just because I'm on the homeward stretch, always the time when interest starts to wane and I can easily end up with an eternal 'Work-In-Progress' (WIP)! Or perhaps it's because my parents are returning to England on Sunday and I really don't want to have to post the Tomten jacket to my niece?

Whatever the reason, I am now knitting like a woman possessed. I knitted the hood last weekend in between trips out with the family and sat grafting it late on Sunday night while watching a DVD of Dale Chihuly's fantastic Glass Art. I followed EZ's Kitchener tips in her book, "Knitting Without Tears," but I know that "Knitty" and "TechKnitting" also have great articles on this easy sewing technique. (Video Tutorial at You Tube.)

So far, I have resisted the urge to alter Elizabeth's pattern. I wanted to stay true to her original jackets, the ones she knitted for her own children back in the '60's. You can see pictures in her book "The Opinionated Knitter" along with a reprint of the origional newsletter that she published.

Now I'm on the sleeves.

One child went back to school today, the others go tomorrow and with soccer practice tonight, I think I have a rainy date with the car and my Ipod later today. Should be able to make some headway........I hope.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Knitter's Note

Pattern: 'Tomten' by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Materials: Plymouth Encore
Needles: US 8

I write a lot of notes. I am always afraid that I'll forget something and so my house is littered with bits of paper decorated with my semi-legible scrawl. I have lists of groceries, a general daily 'To-Do' list and a liberal sprinkling of reminders to clean out the cat's litter tray, pay the bills or drive the kids to an event. In fact I really should write myself a note as a reminder to put my son to bed at a decent time (or actually 'at all!') Last night, I forgot and he was up until I went to bed. Not a very good omen when school is about to start back next week!

My life also consists of knitting notes. Sometimes I run out of row counters and so I revert to scraps of paper marked with roman numeral chicken scrawl. It's extremely effective and has served me well for 35 years. As long as I remember to put the note back into the knitting bag at the end of my session, I'm good.

It is not surprising then that I have had to write myself a rather large 'Note To Self' just so that I don't forget that I now have a man downstairs! Yes, having barged in on several important business calls during the past few days, I have reverted to the 'visual reminder' method of mental prompting that I know works so well with me. My note is kingsized and is working like a dream.

I've also taken advantage of a few moments in the car at soccer practice working on 'Tomten.' Despite the blazing sunshine, I was determined to make headway on the hood and spent a peaceful 45 mins knitting in the heat. In fact, I feel that I really owe EZ a knitter's note. I'll send it as a prayer, I think. It's very simple really. It'll just say:


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ready For Change?

Pattern:"Tomten" by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Materials:Yarn: Plymouth Encore
Needles: US 8

I have a man in my garage!

Yes, along with the three children lurking somewhere in the bedrooms and the visiting parents in the garden, I now have a husband working in my garage! In the absense of a home office, poor P.A. has been forced to take up residence in the only other quiet spot in the house...his beloved garage workshop.

The start of September has seen several changes here at Wilde Thyme including the slow disintegration of the job that brought us to America. With the lease up on his company's offices, working from home has just kind of happened, but for how long we don't know. Naturally we are "down" but by no means are we "out" yet. Let's face it, we are British and that stiff upper lip is alive and well and living at our house!! For want of a better analogy: "The show's not over until the fat lady sings!"

So with fortitude we have launched ourselves into our new routine. I can no longer go in and out of my house via the garage, but must now remember to take the front door key with me to lock and unlock the main door. This could well leave me searching my pockets, handbag and the car glove compartment on a regular basis, but I'm sure I'll get used to it eventually. Nipping out to the grocery store today though meant moving the truck, then my car, then replacing the truck, before I could drive my parents out. This was after I'd been on a hunt for P.A.'s keys. Reaching the freezer also caused a small hiccup as well. It now supports a fax machine so I'm going to have to get myself slightly more organised when it comes to defrosting things.

Thank goodness for "Tomten". I've been taking EZ's advice and have been 'knitting through all crisis.' Yesterday I took my knitting to my daughter's pediatrician's office. I'd just settled down to start, when the doctor walked in to see us. Thankfully she's a fellow knitter and was quite happy for me to continue with my garter stitch while we all talked. I managed several rows on one of the fronts while we discussed vaccination charts and medical insurance.

In fact, I really am going great guns on this project. I'm almost looking forward to the day I get trapped in the car by rain at soccer practice. Just imagine it, an entire hour out of 'the mad house', alone with my knitting! Now that's a change I'm ready for.
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