A Good Yarn

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cruise, part II and FO!

Finishing up the cruise - our other day in port was in Grand Cayman. The water is just as beautiful and clear blue as you've heard. Unbelievably pretty. It was hotter and more humid there than in Key West, but it wasn't too bad. We spent some of our time in port shopping and one of the shopkeepers I talked to was complaining about how it was such a cold day and she had to dig through her closet to find warm clothes to wear. So funny! Besides shopping, we also had lunch at a little place right on the water, which was so nice and relaxing! I had a delicious blackened mahi-mahi with beans and rice, and of course a pina colada. Right about now, island living sounds so good. Our big adventure on Grand Cayman, though, was taking the Atlantis submarine down to look at coral and fish and turtles, etc.

It was hard to photograph anything because of the windows, of course, but you can get an idea of the coral and fish in this picture:

We got back on the ship a little early because Mom was getting a bit tired and I didn't want to spend any more money. The last day at sea was almost just totally relaxing - eating and reading and drinking and not much else. I was happy to come home but sad to see the fun end. When I picked up Fiona at the kennel, they had put little blue bows in her hair. You can sort of see them peeking out behind her ears here:

Such a pretty girl! I had to board her for my work trip too, but I took her with me to Sioux Falls to see the baby. I think she's glad to finally just be at home, too.

This weekend just flew by! Saturday we went to see the Robot Fighting competition at the Mall of America. My favorite robot, Humdinger, won the championship. It has a spinning weapon in the front, which makes it pretty exciting to watch :-) We had dinner at the California Cafe. It used to be my favorite restaurant at the Mall, but I hadn't been there in a while. Overall, the dinner was pretty disappointing. Some of the bread wasn't fully cooked, so it was all doughy. My drink had a film of soap on it (the second drink because there was something in the first glass), and the food overall just wasn't as good as it had been in the past.

Sunday, we went out for brunch and then checked out some of the films at the Omnifest at the Science Museum of Minnesota. I had seen the Nascar film at the Omni Theater at the zoo a couple of years ago and we had been to the Jane Goodall film at the Science Museum before. So, we decided to check out the Vikings film, Australia and Hurricane. I had seen the Vikings exhibit at the Science Museum but for some reason had missed the Omni film at that time. I'm glad I had another chance to see it, because it was pretty interesting. I've been to Iceland and wanted to read The Sagas after my visit and this film renewed that interest. Australia was your typical Omni film, showing gorgeous landscapes and getting up close with the animals. I love that type of film. I hadn't ever really seen a joey getting in and out of his mama's pouch before, so that was kind of cool, and creepy. Kangaroos are adorable! My favorite film, probably not surprisingly, was "Hurricane". The film crew just happened to be in New Orleans filming about the disappearing wetlands when Hurricane Katrina struck and illustrated the point they were making all too well. It's gorgeous and devastating to watch. Seeing some of the wreckage on that huge screen is pretty overwhelming. The film particularly follows Tab Benoit and this 14 year old girl who plays the fiddle, so the music is pretty great, too. I'd highly recommend checking this film out before Omnifest ends on 4/15.

OK, I also finished up this little project over the weekend:

Project Name: Mitered Square Blanket
Designer: Sarah Bradberry
Pattern Source: www.knitting-and.com and Mason-Dixon Knitting
Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic
Yarn Source: Many, many - it started with the stash and grew from there
Date Started: 4/2/06
Date Completed: 3/31/07

Comments: I first saw this blanket back in the pre-blogging days when I was subscribed to the big Knit List. Sarah Bradberry posted it on her website and I thought it was kind of cool, but kind of wacky, too. Flash forward a couple of years and the mitered blankets start appearing on the Mason-Dixon blog. Hmmmm, that looks really cute. Then the MDK book comes out and I can resist no more. I printed the pattern off Sarah's website, but still ordered the MDK book so I could look at the pictures up close and personal.

Tahki Cotton Classic is one of my all time favorite yarns and I had a bunch of different single skeins in my stash. Some were left overs from other projects, some were gifts from kind knitterly friends. I liked the idea of a mitered blanket in a very limited palette, but I wanted to use up stash, so I decided to just use a bunch of different colors. Over the last year, when I've been in yarn stores, I've always checked out the Tahki Cotton Classic shelves and picked up any colors that I really liked, as well as a few more neutral colors. All of the colors I had were bright and lovely, but I realized I needed to throw some neutrals in there to tone it down, just a little bit. I still wanted it brighter and more colorful than the MDK book sample, but not retina burning.

It may look like it's totally 100% random, but y'all should know that I'm genetically incapable of randomness. Way too rigid for that. I started this as a Project Spectrum project, so the first six squares are all themed, for each month. For instance, the first square started with pink and red, as those were the colors for that month. Then I made another square using the pink and another color and a third square using the red and a different color. The final square I used either pink or red and a fifth color altogether. Then I sewed those four smaller squares together to make one big square that is pink and red themed. Each month I did the same thing with the colors of that month. After project spectrum was over, I continued in a somewhat similar manner. Each new square I introduced a new color. I made one square starting with the new color, then made another square with the new color as the second color. I always sewed those opposite each other. I made the third square with one of the colors I had used in the first two squares (not the new color) and a fourth new color and then tried to make the fourth square complementary, but random. Even that got to be a little too patterned, so I eventually just started making both the third and fourth squares just complementary, but not necessarily using any color used in the first two squares. I think the overall effect does look random, but not too chaotic.

I thought I had bought too much yarn, but by the end I had used all but two skeins that are both the same color, so I set them aside so I can make something else with them. I of course have some partial skeins left, but I'll easily be able to use those up in baby hats and such. I don't know how many skeins I used total, because I never did count. Here's another picture of the finished product:

As I mentioned before, I sewed each four smaller square set together into a bigger square as I knit. I blocked the four squares first, and worked in all the tails. I'm so, so glad I did it that way. Blocking each square was very managable and made it easy to sew together. Plus I could intersperse the fun knitting in with the not as fun sewing together. And working the ends was a PITA, but it would have been far, far worse to have to do it all at one time at the end. After I sewed all the strips together and did the border, I think I could have steamed the whole thing one more time to make the seams lie a little flatter, but I haven't done that yet. I also think I probably should have made it square instead of rectangle, and added another row of squares down one side. I actually could have even kept it rectangle and added another row of squares both length-wise and width-wise, and made it a true bedspread. As it is, it just covers the top of my queen-size bed, but not the pillows and doesn't go down the sides at all. Here's a picture of it on my bed, but it's kind of hard to tell:

Once it warms up again and I take the down comforter off the bed, I'll put the blanket back on the bed and take another picture and you'll be able to see the size better. It's once again gotten down to the 20s at night here, so I still need my comforter.