Sunday, December 30, 2007

holly jolly knitting gifts

Functioning under the cloud of the post-Christmas grumps, I neglected to mention in my last post the fantastic knitting gifts Santa left for me this year!

Let's see . . . I got Son of Stitch 'N Bitch, which has some great patterns, but unfortunately the sweater I love most is a crochet pattern. I don't crochet. So boo. Also, I can't for the life of me figure out why the title of this book isn't Son of a Stitch. I mean, isn't that the obvious name for this particular sequel? I find it to be such a glaringly perfect name that I keep instinctively calling the book Son of a Stitch anyway. I'll probably be using this one to make next year's gifts for hubby and Dad (unless Brooklyn Tweed publishes a pattern for Big Blue before then--gorgeous sweater, I can already see my Dad wearing it!).

I also got this cute project bag.

I think "Santa" is tired of me leaving my knitting projects all over the house for people to sit on. . . . This bag is nice and roomy, with lots of pockets, and most importantly, handles, so I can tote it all over the house, car, subway, whatever.

My stocking was stuffed with a few goodies too:


And I got myself a post-Christmas gift--a set of drawers to store my stash!

Prior to this, I was just keeping my yarn in the cardboard boxes Knit Picks shipped it in. This is certainly neater, though not perhaps the most fashionable, decorating-wise.

And, last but not least, just before Christmas I got this beautiful gift from Gary, my Knit It Forward swapper and author of the Knitta' Pleez blog:

I love the yarn, it's almost like tissue paper, and it's pretty cozy too! I know a good blogger would take a picture of herself wearing the scarf, but I am not currently appropriately groomed for photos, so this is all you get for now. ;o)

Still undecided on the cardigan . . .

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

'twas the day after Christmas . . .

Sigh. I can already feel myself sinking into my post-holiday depression. It won't reach its peak until early January, but the first twinges are already surfacing. The holidays are over. :o( Christmas is my favorite time of year; and, frankly, there's no part of the year I can stand less than January - March. It's cold, it's dark, there are no fun holidays (not a big V-Day fan), and many months remain until baseball season starts. At least this year hubby and I have planned a trip to COSTA RICA in February--hopefully that will help stave off these winter blues.
OK, enough whining. I know you're all waiting with bated breath to learn the fate of Cobblestone. Well, wait no longer. Ta da!!!!




Yes, I finished it in time--although just barely. It was blocking on Christmas Eve and, sadly, not dry in time to wrap and put under the tree. :o( But hubby did wear it on Christmas Day, and I got lots of compliments (which I'll chose to believe were sincere and not just polite). It has its flaws. First, the sleeves are a bit long for him, and the neck became a bit stretched out after wearing it all day. My short rows, frankly, don't look great--I can spot the little holes easily, though I doubt a non-knitter could point them out. I also wound up with large holes on the sides of the sleeves after I grafted the stitches together under the arms, but I think I covered them up fairly well. Overall, I dub it a success, especially for my first sweater. (p.s. Hubby does not have Elvis hair, that's just a weird shadow over his head.)
Sadly, Pop Pop's socks did not make it to Christmas. In adapting the pattern for knitting on DPNs, I made an unspeakably stupid mistake and placed the decreases in the wrong spot. So sock #1 needs to be frogged back to the gusset, and I simply didn't have the time or the energy to do that before Christmas. Maybe he'll get Easter socks.
It's hard to believe that this time last year, I couldn't knit at all. I had just received my almost totally useless "learn-to-knit" kit and was occupied with tangling up a ball of pink novelty yarn. One important knitting lesson I've learned over the last few months is to plan ahead. I didn't get all the knitting done that I hoped to for Christmas, and I spent a lot of hours in the run up to the big day knitting feverishly and missing out on holiday fun. So this year I hope to do one project per month for Christmas 2008.
For now, though, with the holidays over and no major gift giving events coming up, I want to actually knit something for myself. Crazy idea! I want to do a cardigan, but I'm having a hard time deciding which one. I love the Rowena Cardigan from Knit 2 Together, but it looks pretty complicated, as does the Tangled Yoke Cardigan. Maybe the famous Tilted Duster? Please help me out! Vote for one of these, or suggest a cardigan for me!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Knit unto others . . .

Hurrah! The lovely Sheryl received her knitting goodie package, so now I can show off what I knit for her:

I sent her something of a theme package: a book I loved that was set in Peru (Marie Arana's Cellophane), and so to go with it, a Peruvian Chullo, decorated with alpacas and knit in alpaca (I would've sent along some coca tea, but God knows you can't import that into the U.S. because someone might process cocaine out of it . . . ). As I said in my last post, this was my first attempt at colorwork, and I think it turned out fairly well.
Last weekend hubby and I took a weekend getaway to our favorite little inn in Ocean City, MD, and went to their Christmas parade. And look what they had:


Too cute. But I feel bad for the alpacas, it's too warm here for them (not to mention, I don't think they have any innate desire to participate in parades). Interesting fact: at Machu Picchu, there are llamas and alpacas wandering about the ruins--but (according to my tour guide, Puma) they're not native to that altitude, they actually bring them down from the mountains for the tourists. :o(
**Edit. A commenter indicated that you can buy coca tea on Amazon. I have no idea if it's authentic, but I do know it's super expensive--when I was in Peru, it was practically free! But if you want to try it, there's an option. Perhaps rules have changed, but when I left Peru, you were not allowed to bring any coca products (tea, candy, etc.) with you, either in your luggage or your carry on.**

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

better late than never . . .

It's so obnoxious when someone says they're going to do something, and then they don't do it, isn't it? In my defense, I've been sick (and, while usually my colds clear up after a couple days, I don't really seem to be improving at all. Grrrr.). But, finally, here are the slippers! And, since it's been decades since my last blog, I've actually done the felting, so we have before and after photos!

BEFORE (modeled by Nelly):


And AFTER:


No major problems with felting, although it's not the most fun thing I've ever done. I've seen centipedes the size of garden snakes in our laundry room, so I don't really relish hanging out down there for extended periods of time, not to mention intermittently plunging my hands into a washing machine full of sudsy, scalding water while praying my constant stopping and starting cycles doesn't break the damn thing . . . But the important thing is, the slippers came out what I think is the right size, although the slipper on the left seems to be a slightly odd shape (narrower). I'm going to add a few adornments before I call them done--felted holly leaves and some red "berries."
I've also managed to (nearly) complete another project! I've finished the project for my swap buddy--just needs to be blocked. I don't want to go into too much detail until she gets her gift, but this was my first experience with color work. It was . . . something of a challenge. First, I simply didn't have time to teach myself to knit two handed, so I opted for the slower method of tangling up both skeins in my right hand. (I WILL teach myself two-handed stranding after the holidays!). I finished the project fairly quickly despite that, but I soon discovered that I didn't make the floats loose enough. Sigh. So I had to frog about half the project and start over. Fortunately my second go went more smoothly. It's still not perfect, but at least she'll actually be able to put it on now.
No progress on Cobblestone. I really need to get to work! I think I'm going to start bringing the sleeves on Metro.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

slippery little devils

So, after all that complaining, I actually knit the entire pair of house slippers this weekend. (And I do have photos, but I'm at work. I'll add them tonight.) I know, I can't believe it either.
First, I decided to tackle the yarn dilemma. I untwisted my skein, which gave me that handful of long loops. I figured I could count the loops, divide by three, and that would give me fairly equal balls of yarn (And it was bulky yarn, so counting was easy; I wouldn't try this ploy on laceweight, you'd go insane). And it actually worked! So of course, I panicked about a seemingly insurmountable obstacle that turned out to be easily solved. I'm so well-adjusted.
After that, the knitting was easy--holding three strands of bulky yarn together=fast knitting. Although, after all that, of course I didn't have the right size needles. I needed 13s, and the biggest I had was 11s. So I just used 11s and tried to knit loosely (bad knitter!). Ultimately the slippers are to be felted, so we'll see how they turn out. Mom's feet are on the small side of the smallest size (and the slippers look enormous right now), so if they wind up a bit snug after felting, it shouldn't be a problem.
I had only one serious misstep while knitting--down to, literally, the last 2 stitches, I pulled a thread to tighten a stitch and wound up ripping out 2 stitches along the sole, somehow (I think I pulled a broken yarn end loose). After passing out and coming to, I glared at the slipper for a few minutes, then found a crochet hook and pulled the yarn back through both live stitches and repeated my last stitch, fastening the edge of the top to the side. And somehow, I did it correctly. Or correctly enough that the stitches are in their rightful place and the yarn end is not dangling loosely. Thank goodness. Despite the fast pace of the knitting, I was not interested in frogging the whole thing, even if that meant Mom was stuck trying to cram 2 feet into 1 slipper . . .
So now I need to felt them. I haven't felted before, so I'm feeling a little unsure. I'll tackle that over the Thanksgiving break (4 whole days of freedom!). I'm so excited that it's finally almost my favorite time of year. Of course, the rest of the world seems to think that Christmas started almost a month ago, but I am not among those people. I love Christmas because it is special. And Christmas is not special if it constitutes 1/6 of the year.

Friday, November 16, 2007

coming down from the yarn high

I'm still intermittently giddy about my big yarn colorway achievement, but it's time to regroup and focus on actual holiday projects. All of which I'm way behind on. Why? Well, I'll tell you:
Cobblestone: I can't knit it in front of hubby, obviously, so I'm stuck knitting it in our empty guest room. It gets a little boring. It occurs to me, though, that we have a portable DVD player and I still haven't finished watching my Sabrina the Teenage Witch season 2 DVD set--er, I mean, my set of DVDs for, uh . . . some way cooler show . . . yeah . . . so perhaps I should bring that in the room.
Also, I'm still waiting for my Knit Picks order with the needles for the sleeves. I placed it on Sunday, and it just shipped today. I emailed them yesterday because they're usually so prompt, and got a "well, it's the holidays" email in response. Yes, exactly, Knit Picks, it is the holidays. Which means we're all busy knitting gifts, and we need you to stay on the ball and mail out the requisite yarn!
Gentleman's Socks: I mentioned in my last email that the pattern is written for knitting on 2 circs, which I don't have, so that snafu stalled my knitting plans while I looked around for a new pattern. But then the pattern author was kind enough to send me a message about how to adapt the pattern. So now I'm finally ready to get started.
House Slippers: These slippers are 2 different colors, and need to be knit with three strands of yarn held together. But I've got 2 skeins of 1 color, and 1 skein of the other color, leading to an obvious dilemma: how to come up with 3 strands of each color. The pattern, fortunately contains some instructions for winding a 3 strand ball and they worked well for the 2 skein color. But the instructions for the single skein involes weighing out the yarn--I don't own a scale, and frankly, I don't have the patience for that kind of nonsense. So I'm stuck again. :o(

Monday, November 12, 2007

Yarn fame, hon

So, today began fairly grumpily. For starters, it's Monday. And even though it's Veteran's Day, I have to work. And Metro decided that not enough people do actually have to work today, so they're running a weekend schedule. And it's rainy.
But things really started looking up when I got an email from Laura at The Unique Sheep. You'll recall in a previous blog I mentioned that she was holding a colorway contest. I submitted a gleaming photo of one of my hometown's (Baltimore, hon) holiday highlights, 34th Street:


and--hoorah!--I won! You can check out the colorway here, and be sure to browse her entire site, the yarn is absolutely beautiful! For my photographic inspiration, I get a my very own skein of yarn in the new colorway, I can't wait. I might actually knit something for myself for a change!

I also finally managed to finish something this weekend, the neverending scarf. I added some fringe to the end, and I'm pretty happy with it.

I placed another order at Knit Picks, so I'll soon have the needles I need to do Cobblestone's sleeves, as well as the project for my swap (and that's all I'll say about that, as I have a sneaking suspicion my swap buddy might read this . . . .). I'm feeling guilty about the swap, the mailing deadline is the first week in December, but it looks like a lot of people there are done their projects already!
I was planning to cast on for my grandfather's Christmas socks this weekend, but in reviewing the pattern, I realize it's written for knitting socks on two circulars. I don't have two circulars in the same size, nor do I really quite know how to rewrite the pattern for knitting on DPNs. Boo. So I'm not sure where to go from here, I guess I'll be picking a new pattern. Too bad.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

photo extravaganza!

As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm often quite remiss in posting photos of my projects. Often that's because I'm blogging from The Land Where Dreams Go to Die (aka, work), and sometimes it's because I'm just too lazy to go skipping about the house with the dig cam to take said photos (and my projects are spread about that house--I currently have one on each floor). But today I offer you photos of not 1, not 2, but 3 WIPs!
The first is the One Row Handspun Scarf (minus the handspun part, I'm just using Swish Superwash) for my sister. This one would be done except Meghan specifically asked for a super long scarf, so onward I knit. Here's a small section of it:


Next, Cobblestone. I've just finished up the garter ridge around the bottom and am moving on to the main part of the body. So far, so good (but, really, how could I possibly mess up knitting rounds of garter stitch? This project won't get difficult until it's time to attach sleeves to body. Thinking about that keeps me up at night . . . scary!).


And a bonus photo of my quality assurance officer, Dory, inspecting my work:


And finally, the Drop Stitch Scarf, for MIL. I cast on for this because I needed a portable project, which I no longer had after stupidly deciding to add stripes to Meghan's scarf. This is an easy knit and seems to be working up quickly. Unfortunately, it's hard to see the dropped stitch in the photo, but here it is anyway.


So there you have it, a pictorial of my current knitting life.

Somehow while sleeping, or I guess more likely, half awake with my thoughts wandering, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant project idea for my swap buddy. But alas, when I got up this morning, I checked her MySpace page and it turns out, she lives in Florida. So my winter-y accessory just won't work. Back to the drawing board. :o(

Someone recently pointed me in the direction of an online yarn store that sells some of the most beautiful yarn, The Unique Sheep. Laura is currently running a holiday photo contest, maybe win yourself some yarn and a little place in yarn history. ;o) I need to start dropping some subtle hints to hubby (or Santa?) so I might find some of this beautiful yarn in my stocking Christmas morning.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

. . . since I'm a day late for Halloween. Hope everyone had a fun holiday and no one has slipped into a sugar-induced coma. We have a decent amount of leftover candy, unfortunately. Sometimes it seems that I do nothing but eat between Halloween and Christmas.
On the knitting front, no real news to report, but thanks for all the nice comments on the Brea Bag. I have yet to ship it off to my ahijada, because I might get a chance to see her this weekend in person (she doesn't live all that far away, but she is a gymnast, so she spends most of her free time trying not to crack her head open while tumbling from balance beams, uneven bars and the like). I did cast on for Cobblestone, but so far I've only knit about an inch--it's hard to find time and space away from hubby to knit. I'm annoyed with myself for adding stripes to my sister's scarf, because now it's too cumbersome to take with me to knit on the Metro. Which is really a shame, because apparently the people running Metro have decided that a functioning subway system is completely unnecessary for the Washington, D.C. area--twice this week I've been stuck on the train for an hour while the brainwashed conductor tried to convince all passengers that we were experiencing a "minor delay." Hah!

Anyway, completely unrelated, all of Avon's cute Christmas-y stuff is now available, so check it out, and if you make a purchase, use code REPFS for free shipping anywhere in the continental U.S.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

FO-nally!

After so many days and weeks in the land of unfinished knitting projects, the Brea Bag is finally done! I might have the Vatican come out and investigate this as a possible miracle . . .

This was quite a time-consuming project; I don't think I'll be undertaking something so involved for a while. The knitting, actually, was a breeze. The cables were simple, and with 2 strands of yarn held together, it knit up quickly. But once the knitting was done, hard times were upon us (me and the Brea Bag, that is).
Seemingly insurmountable obstacle #1: sew the 3 pieces together. You know what's not fun? Trying to figure out how to stitch a moss stitch piece to not one but two shield-shaped cable/garter/moss stitch pieces.
Seemingly insurmountable obstacle #2: crocheting the edges without the faintest knowledge of crochet. This actually was an insurmountable obstacle, I ended up skipping the edging. This bag helped me to realize that crochet is not for me. At all.
Seemingly insurmountable obstacle #3: sewing in the lining. In addition to crochet, I also don't sew. At all. So, of course, I thought it was a brilliant idea to try to line the funny-shaped bag. I really couldn't figure out how to cut the fabric to fit the shape without leaving a bunch of rough edges, so I wound up with a lot of extra fabric on the sides and bottom; I ultimately folded the sides inward and glued some of the fabric together with fabric glue to keep the lining from getting unruly, and just stuffed all that fabric in the bag. I wish I had glued the lining into the bag instead of trying to stitch it--stitching worked well, but it doesn't look great.
Seemingly insurmountable obstacle #4: handles. I had a tough time finding any. M & J Trimming has tons of cute ones, but adding in the shipping, they weren't in my Brea Bag Budget. Joanne's selection was, actually, decent, but almost entirely non-flexible handles, and since the bag is slouchy, structured handles wouldn't really work. I ended up using a belt I found at Target (yeah, that's a belt. The things some people wear . . . ).
Seemingly insurmountable obstacle #5: buttonloop. Gah, more crocheting! This part was a bit easier, but I really needed a lot more yarn tail than I'd left at the top, so I had to break a cardinal knitting rule, knotting 2 (well, really, 4) strands together so I had enough to do the whole loop.
So now, 2 weeks after her birthday, I'll finally be shipping this off to my ahijada, along with a gift card to a store that sells professionally made clothes, just in case she despises it. I hope that won't be the case.
Now that I don't have BB hanging over my head, I will officially cast on for Cobblestone. I did the swatch on size 8 needles, and that produced gauge, more or less, so I'm good to go.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gauge my reaction

In keeping with, seemingly, the majority of knitters, I usually don't bother with gauge swatches. All that knitting, and what do you end up with? A square. How exciting! But most of my reluctance to toil away at gauge swatches (have you read this Knitty article on gauge swatches? Now that is dedication!) has been based on the fact that, to this point, I've primarily been knitting items for which gauge is largely irrelevant--one of the best things about a scarf is that it can never be the wrong size! But all that is about to change.
I am embarking on my first "real" sweater, Brooklyn Tweed's Cobblestone, a Christmas gift for hubby. And I want it to be perfect (ha ha! fat chance!), so that means I actually have to care about gauge. Sigh. I already know I'm a tight knitter, so I vaguely considered just jumping straight to size 8 needles. But I really want to commit myself to doing this the "right" way, so I threw that idea out the window and knit a dreaded gauge swatch last night. As suspected, knitting the swatch on 7s produced a square about a half inch too narrow. So tonight I will try again with 8s and see what I come up with. If I can't get gauge exactly, I certainly want to err on the side of too large--I've never heard a guy complain that an article of clothing was too big (as evidenced by the hordes of teenage boys roaming the streets with the crotch of their jeans at their knees--very attractive gentleman!).
I'm knitting Cobblestone with Knit Picks, of course, Wool of the Andes in Pampas Heather. My first choice was Camel Heather, but when I went to order it, it was on backorder, so I opted for Pampas and now I'm a little concerned that it's "too" green--I want something with subtle color, or he'll never wear it (except on Christmas day, when I make him. Hah!). I do like the name though. One of these days I will make it to the pampas myself, I hope.
On Saturday I got my yarn store gift certificate from my sister, so of course I went to spend it right away! I got 2 skeins of gray bulky alpaca (Dad's scarf?), 1 skein of a purple-ish fingering weight alpaca (hopefully for my own Chapeau, one of these days), 2 skeins of white merino wool, and a skein of Cascade 220 in a mottled green/blue for a scarf for MIL. I'm really starting to amass quite a stash! I feel like a real knitter. :o) Now, I really need somewhere to keep it. My husband doesn't seem to appreciate my current storage method: leaving the yarn in cardboard boxes on the floor of our office . . .

Friday, October 19, 2007

bee in my bonnet

Hurrah, the adult bonnet is done! And here I am looking like a babushka wearing it:
Ok, not the most flattering picture; but you're supposed to be looking at the bonnet!
This was a pretty easy pattern; it starts out as a simple ribbed scarf; unfortunately I made a mistake at the end and didn't do enough repeats of the last few rows, so the flared end looks a big stunted. Were I a better knitter, I could undo the bind off and fix it . . . but alas, I'm not. I also wound up with almost a full skein of yarn left over at the end; had I known that, I would definitely have made the scarf longer (this is a running theme on ravelry for this project. Heed the warning: make your scarf longer!).
The bonnet itself was relatively easy as well. Picking up the initial stitches was no problem; you knit these in stockinette to form the back panel. But then, once that's done, you pick up stitches (86 of them!) around all 3 sides for the hood (38 on each side, 10 at the top). This was trickier; I had trouble spacing out the 38 stitches over 7 inches, and though it's easy to pull them out and try again, the edge stitches get looser, so ultimately the seam isn't as smooth or pretty.
The most difficult part of the whole deal was really sewing the hood to the scarf; I'm still not as skilled as I would like to be in sewing pieces together, so while it's not physically difficult, my seams just never look as nice as I would like.
I ultimately deem this project a great success: the hood fits, the scarf is long enough for a simple wrap around the neck, there are no unsightly bulges, dangling threads or other telltale signs of novice knitting, and I will definitely be wearing this one in public. Now I just have to wait for it to get cold--nearing the end of the October and it was 80 degrees yesterday. Damn global warming. The reason I am so excited about this project is that, while I adore hats, they always smush your hair, so you get into a work and your choices are: a.) take hat off and look like an unwashed hippie with matted hair or b.) leave hat on and deal with 437 people asking you why you're wearing the hat in the office. I think the bonnet may eliminate this problem: it's loose enough that it won't smush your hair, but will still keep your head plenty warm.
Brea Bag is in much the same condition as you last saw it, but I will finish it this weekend! I cast on for a scarf for my sister and it's super easy, mindless knitting, so that means I can also cast on for another (or 2 more!) more difficult projects. I need to get started on hubby's sweater if I actually want it done before the New Year arrives. I've also signed up for yet another knitting project (yes!): I joined a Ravelry group (Helping Hands for Homeless Animals) that's knitting items to donate to animals shelters. I've picked my shelter, the Howard County Cat Club, so now I've just got to come up with some items to knit! I should probably start small, perhaps with the cat toys in Stich N Bitch Nation.
And don't worry, swap buddy, I haven't forgotten about you. I've settled on a "theme" for your gift, and I think it's a good one, so now I just need to pick the actual item.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me . . .

It has been quite a knit-ish birthday. Saturday my big Knit Picks order arrived, so my first gift (to myself) was a giant box full of yarn and my Options set. I've already broken it out and started using it for the Grownup Bonnet, and am amazed at how vastly superior these needles are to the other sub-par circ I have used. Here's a photo of my yarn (I'm guessing most people reading this have the Options set or something similar, so you don't need a photo of it):


My sister has promised me a gift certificate to a LYS, and hubby gave me this great knitting organizer this morning:


So, I hesitate to say, I think I'm set with knitting supplies for a while!

A little project update, here's what Brea looks like:
Inside out, obviously, I've got the lining partially in, but I've got a lot of fabric left on the sides and I'm trying to figure out how to get it in in the least bunchy way possible. So far, not much luck, but I'm not a sewer, so I really need to avoid any unnecessary seams. Still needs handles and a button, too. I made a good faith effort to crochet the top edges, but it looked a mess, and I didn't think it added much to it, so I pulled it out and left the bound off edges. I'm sure if you know how to crochet, it's worth it, but I saw no reason to ruin an otherwise lovely project with shoddy crocheting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

the sum of its parts

Well, I've finally reached that dreaded point: I have 3 knitted pieces without the vaguest idea how to put them all together. Here they are:

For whatever reason, I had the worst time with the gusset. Fortunately the wonderful knitters on MySpace Knit Knack were kind enough to help me, so I finally finished that part up. The instructions for the increases and decreases were far too vague for my taste. If you have a pattern going (in this case, moss stitch), you can't just say, "work to the last stitch, M1, work last stitch"; you need to tell people the exact series of knits and purls that will maintain the pattern!
So what's left? Reverse single crochet (?!?) along the top edges of both front and back, sew the gusset on, crochet some kind of button clasp, attach handles, plus lining. I did get some cute lining, black with red skulls (it's Halloween, and also my ahijada (prettier than "goddaughter," no?) is 14, so I think she'll like it). I did not, unfortunately, find handles, JoAnn's only had small ones. Boo.
I've been putting off even trying to finish it because I feel like it requires my full attention, which is hard to give at night after work. So it's on tap for this weekend, especially since--hurrah!--my boss has offered us all an extra day off next week because we worked such atrocious hours the last two weeks (Almost makes up for the fact that my whole section is going to Colombia in November and I'm not included). I'm planning to take Monday, my birthday, assuming she approves.
I finally placed my big KnitPicks order; I ordered yarn for hubby's sweater, mom's slippers, sister's scarf and grandfather's socks, plus--YAY!--my options set! I can't wait 'til it all arrives. I'm sorry to say, I was disappointed with my yarn swap experience (to sum up, having been told a minimum of 3 full skeins, I swapped 4 skeins of brand new yarn for 1.5 skeins of partially-used yarn--not quite an even exchange), so I'm really looking forward to getting a giant box of yarn to play with.
And shame on me, I still haven't come up with a project for my next swap. :o( Think, think, think . . .
As a side note, among the people I am annoyed with this week: Oprah. I'm sure she's well-intentioned, but Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a brilliant writer, he really doesn't need "Oprah's Book Club" publicity; but now that she's selected Love in the Time of Cholera as her new book, I just know people will be wandering about thinking what a great service Oprah has done, bringing this "unknown" author into the public eye. Eye roll.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

thinking of creative blog titles is too exhausting . . .

Hurrah! My two hellish weeks at work are over! Yesterday was the last day of a 2 week long meeting that required working late nights and on the weekends, but it's finally over, everyone is going back to their respective countries, and I will once again be working normal hours, sitting at my desk instead of in the freezing cold conference room listening to people argue for 9 hours straight . . .
Sadly, since the meeting took over my life, I haven't been knitting much, but I did finish the 2nd side of the Brea Bag; now I just need to do the gusset and then assemble the whole mess, which is the scary part. I need to get to the store to search out some fabric to line it, too. I also never got to place my big yarn order, but that will be happening this weekend.
I've been so excited for knitting fall-ish things and Christmas gifts, and I'm sad to say, the weather is not cooperating. It's been in the mid-to-upper 80s for the last few days and will be until the middle of next week! In general, I hate being cold, but when it's October, I expect cool weather, dammit! How can one get excited for Halloween when it feels like July? Stupid global warming . . .

Sunday, September 30, 2007

i say, crochet?

Here's the front (or back, I guess) of the Brea Bag.

I'm quite happy with the way this turned out; less happy that I have to knit it all over again for the other side. But it's a quick knit, at least. My biggest worry now is really the crochet required for finishing for the bag. I don't know the first thing about crochet, and the instructions may as well be in Farsi for all the sense they make to me. (When I was teaching, my brilliant students would constantly ask me if their homework/quizzes/tests had to be answered in Spanish; my response was usually something like, "No, please answer in Farsi," sufficiently bathed in sarcasm so as to alert them to how ludicrous it was to even be asking if their Spanish homework should be completed in Spanish. It then came to my attention that a number of them weren't aware that Farsi was, in fact, a language . . . )
I would also like to line the bag, and I don't know how to do that either . . . but I just keep pushing these doubts out of my head and knitting away happily, as if I'll never reach the point where I have 3 separate knitted pieces and a few scraps of fabric sitting in front of me without the slightest clue as to how to put them all together to form anything functional.
It's almost October, which means it's almost time to order my birthday present for myself--the Knit Picks Options set. Yay! I'll also be ordering bunches of yarn for Christmas gifts (12 balls of yarn for hubby's sweater! That's the most yarn I've ever bought for 1 project!), so this is going to be one expensive yarn month. At least I'll qualify for free shipping! ;o)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

knit the knits and purl the purls

I hate when knitting patterns say this. I mean, really, is it so hard just write out the actual pattern so people don't get confused? Oh, and I just love, "keep one stitch on each side in stockinette." Please, just put the "k1" or "p1" in the pattern! Otherwise, you know I'm going to start the row with whatever the first stitch written is and then wind up with "extra" stitches at the end, crumple my yarn into a tangled ball and heave it across the room in a rage . . .
Complaints courtesy of Brea Bag, which, obviously, is making me a little grumpy. When I get to the "knit the knits and purl the purls," I sometimes have trouble telling which is which--sometimes you have what looks like a purl bump, but it's actually from the row below, so I purl when I should really knit. So, sadly, my bag isn't looking quite right so far (I'm only about 5 rows in). I don't think I'm going to frog, though, probably just use this side as the back--knitting with two strands is painful enough without trying to keep the strands untangled while ripping. Incidentally, my method to deal with the 'knit the knits and purl and purls" is to read the previous row backward--a bit tedious, but better than my previous method: just guess and hope for the best.
I got my swap assignment for my next swap! I will be knitting for the swap organizer, so I guess it's not so anonymous in my case. ;o) Now, to come up with a project. I really like the idea of knitting a book-inspired object and sending it along with said inspirational book . . . but what if we don't like the same kind of books? I guess I can ponder this idea while I'm stuck here at work. Not only do I hate my job, but I'm stuck here working late (and on Saturday!!) for the next two weeks while we have a big pointless meeting. Hurrah! (I wish there was a font specifically designated for sarcasm.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

a variety of things . . .

First, I realized that the pic of the Anthropologie-Inspired Capelet was, well, garbage, so here's another one:

This turned out a bit smaller than I had hoped, unfortunately. It's still wearable, but I think the lesson I'm learning is that I must do a gauge swatch. Which I HATE. Gah!
I've also cast on for the Grownup Bonnet, which basically starts out as a scarf, so it's not particularly exciting:

This also seems small--I think it should be wider. It certainly looks wider in the pictures in Knit Two Together. So I guess I'm a tight knitter. I'm on the fence about re-starting; there's really no such thing as a "wrong" size scarf, but this is for me and I personally think I would like it to be wider.
It's hard to tell in the pic, but this yarn is beautiful. It's Swish Superwash from Knit Picks (of course!), a heathered mahogany with a gorgeous mix of browns and reds. I can't wait to wear it!
I discovered that I already have some good yarn for the Brea Bag (2 skeins of a heathered blue Cascade 220 that I randomly picked up at the Celtic Knot Yarn Shop a few weeks ago), but it's supposed to be knit on 9s, which I'm using for the Bonnet; I could probably just bump up to 10s, since, as we've just discussed, I'm a tight knitter. But then, if I decide to start the Bonnet over, I should probably jump to 10s for that . . . oh, knitting dilemmas, you make my life a misery!
No, knitting is never a misery. But you know what is? My job. I know, I just started. And, I know, it took me forever to find a job. But I have a Masters degree, dammit, I shouldn't be spending my days making photocopies!!! It's so frustrating, especially since several of my friends have also recently completed Masters degrees and their new jobs are sending them to places like Bolivia (dream! I would love to go there!) and India, while I spend my days wrangling the copy machine. I'm hoping (hope hope hope) that once our big meeting is finished in 2 weeks, my tasks will improve significantly. But I already know that everyone in my section (6 people) is going to Colombia in November--except for me. I just get to help with travel arrangements. So, it is becoming increasingly apparent that while my job title is "specialist," I'm really a glorified program assistant. And there's nothing wrong with being a program assistant, but 1.) I already did that for 2 years before grad school and 2.) I am, frankly, overqualified for such a job. Maybe that sounds snotty, but I put a lot of time and effort (and money; oh so much money) into graduate school, and I think I deserve a job on par with my experience and . . . vast wisdom (heh! Just kidding about that last thing!).
Speaking of jobs, I have another job, of sorts. It's really more of a hobby. I am an "Avon lady." I'm sure many of you think Avon is nothing but blue eyeshadow and Skin So Soft, but it's really a very contemporary brand (mineral makeup, anti-aging skincare, self-tanning lotion that's suspiciously similar to the super-popular Jergens Natural Glow). I actually became a rep because I liked their products so mucy, as well as their stance against animal testing--as a salesperson, I get a nice discount. :o) So, if you haven't given Avon a look in a while, I encourage you to click on that little icon on the sidebar that says, "Hi, I'm the Avon lady," which will take you to my Avon website. And I would definitely encourage you to check out the mark. line, which is my personal favorite.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

much planning, no knitting

Well, I've yet to cast on a new project (horrors!), but I think I've figured out the majority of my upcoming birthday/Christmas gifts. So that's something. Mom will be getting some socks and a pair of felted slippers, possibly the ones in Knit Two Together; Dad gets 2 scarves and a hat, although I've yet to identify a good "older man" hat pattern--if anyone can think of one, let me know!; sister is mostly done, she just gets an additional scarf; grandfather gets socks; goddaughter (turning 14) is getting the Brea Bag for her birthday (we share the same birthday, and it's October 15--better get started!) and hubby, who has birthday AND Christmas in December, damn him, gets a hat, scarf, socks, and--dun, dun, dun!--a sweater! It will be my first real sweater, so I probably need to start 3 weeks ago to get it done on time. I'm going to try the Cobblestone sweater in Fall Interweave. Most of the people on Ravelry ranked it as a relatively easy project so, fingers crossed, it should go relatively smoothly.
(Interesting side note, I was just asking my coworker if they say "fingers crossed" in Spanish, and they do; however, earlier she was yelling at the fax machine, "Date prisa, que no es por maƱana!" ["Hurry up, it's not for tomorrow!"] and asked if we said that in English, and we really don't; we say things like, "Sometime today! and "Any day now!" At least here in the U.S.; I don't know about Britain. Language is so interesting.)
I'm still on the fence about knitting for the in-laws; maybe a scarf for MIL, but I just don't think anyone else would really appreciate a knitted gift. Although, maybe a sweater for SIL's dog/baby Flannigan would be well-received . . .
So, now that I've got all my projects more or less planned, I need to order some yarn!
I also signed up for another anonymous swap, but I'm kind of bummed about my first two swaps. I did get an adorable knitted bag from my buddy, along with some much needed coffee-inspired goodies, but the person I knit for still hasn't received Chapeau! I mailed it on September 8 and, granted, it had to go all the way to CA, but I sent it Priority. Pout. If the USPS lost my Chapeau, I'm going to be super pissed. That same day I also mailed out my 4 skeins of yarn to my yarn swap buddy, who received them, but I still haven't received anything in return. So I'm hoping swap #3 goes a little more smoothly.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

capelet or not . . .

it's done! This was such a quick knit, I didn't really have time to do pics of it in progress, so here it is blocking.

I really think it's more a shrug than a capelet, but let's not get bogged down in semantics. Whatever you might call it, it's cozy and comfy. You might note that it's quite similar to the One Skein Shrug I did a few months ago, with a few key differences: 1.) it's larger, 2.) it has "real" sleeves and 3.) it's not for me. This is for my sister, for either Christmas or her birthday. I hope she likes it. I picked a reddish brown color that's fairly neutral so it should go with most outfits, and the yarn is wool and alpaca, so it's warm, but not itchy (it is, of course, from Knit Picks. Yes, it seems that most of my yarn is from Knit Picks. Why? Because I'm cheap.).
I'm not sure what project to work on next. I have a few items on deck for myself, but with holidays around the corner, I think I need to really start focusing on gift knitting. I'm going to sit down with some knitting books tonight and try to pick out some projects for my family. A rockin' Saturday night, I know! But I'll also be watching "Before the Dinosaurs," drinking wine and eating lemon bars--could my life be more exciting?!?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

back in the saddle

Thank you all for your nice comments about Chapeau. I hope when my swap buddy gets the hat, she will send me pics of her wearing the hat so I can share those. I really thought it was a great project, so if you're considering it, DO IT!
After a very brief (one day) respite from knitting, I cast on for the Anthropologie-inspired Capelet on Sunday. I had a few false starts (apparently I didn't actually know how to do YOs in purl stitch--hmph. But I do now), but now things are going smoothly. I'm using a bulky yarn and size 11 needles--which seems enormous after knitting the socks on size 1s and the hat on size 2s--so it's knitting up very quickly.
In other news, I had the most ridiculous morning. I put on a cute dress I purchased earlier this summer--it's a little summer-y, but with a cardigan and professional-looking shoes, I thought it would work for work--and proceeded to attempt to go to work. I wanted to leave early because it's a rainy day, and as MD/DC-ites know, it only takes a single errant drop of water falling from the sky to back up all major roadways for days. Unfortunately for me, the dress wasn't having it. I got in the car, and one strap broke. Grrrr. I ran inside and identified the problem--they are adjustable straps, and the strap had just slipped out of the ring attaching it to the back of the dress. I put it back in the ring, but it almost instantly slipped out again--I guess the ring has loosened up and now it's not tight enough to keep the strap from slipping out. Fantastic.
Then I decided I would pin the strap to the back of the dress. I ran out to the car again--it was now raining steadily, of course--got behind the wheel, and--snap! snap!--both straps broke! Seriously, dress?!? I felt like I was in a bad commercial for a low-budget tailor. Same deal, nothing ripped, the straps just decided they no longer wanted anything to do with the rings holding them in place. I must have looked ridiculous, running to and from the house with various parts of my clothing blowing in the breeze. My husband, by the way, was a huge help, standing in the dining room looking confused, then calmly bending down to pick up the keys I flung on the floor in frustration. After a second temper tantrum, I finally just threw on some other clothes that happened to be ironed, and left. Sigh.
[Completely unrelated, if you haven't checked out Treasure Trooper yet, do me a favor and sign up. I need some more referrals because I finally earned enough to join the VIP Club and to maintain my VIP benefits, I need to earn $10/month from referrals. Thanks ;o)]

Saturday, September 8, 2007

oui, tout a fait, c'est le chapeau marnier!

Voila! (Side note: you know what I really hate? When people have no idea that "voila" is a French word and think it's just, I don't know, a funny sound, and then they try to type it out like, "wah-lah!" or something equally ridiculous.)
Here she is, Chapeau Marnier:

I absolutely adore this hat. We had some tough moments in the beginning (see previous post about my inexplicable decision to read the chart 10 kinds of wrong ways), but it turned out really well (my only complaint: loops for the ribbon are too small; not really understanding how they were going to work, I wrapped the yarn too tightly). I had to ship it off to my Knit Knack swap buddy this afternoon, and I sorely miss it already--I hope she loves it! I will definitely be making one for myself in the very near future. I used Knit Picks Gloss for this, and I think it was a great choice. It's 70% wool, 30% silk, so the hat is warm, but not too warm, and it's nice and soft; it's fingering weight yarn, so it's not a bulky hat either. Unfortunately, Gloss only comes in about 8 colors.
The bad part of this hat: the needle. As I posted earlier, I purchased an apparently cheap circular, and then had to spend a great deal of valuable knitting time wiggling the stitches over the needles. I will definitely be purchasing the highly recommended Addi Turbos before I make my own hat.
Today I shipped off my swap buddy's goodies, as well as a box of yarn for a yarn swap, so that means next week I'll be getting TWO surprise packages myself. YAY! I can't wait. :o)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

i am an idiot . . .

Those of you who've knit Chapeau Marnier know that it involves a chart. And I hate charts. I don't know why, there's nothing inherently difficult about them, but they always seem to trip me up. But I simply couldn't write off Chapeau just because of the chart--it's too pretty. So I decided to take a slow, rational approach to the chart. I printed it out and blew it up a bit so I could read it clearly. Before I even started, I read it backward and forward, up and down. I made sure I understood every abbreviation before I began. I numbered large blocks of stitches so I could just glance at them and read "knit 7" instead of counting them every time.
And then I started.
And, in starting, I made one of the stupidest knitting moves I've had the misfortune of making since I began this journey in January:
I read the chart in the wrong direction.
Because what's one of the first things you learn when you learn about charts?
Read the first row right to left, the second row left to right, etc., etc.
But guess what?
That doesn't apply when you're knitting IN A CIRCLE!!!
Thinking about it now, it's seems blatantly obvious--you're not knitting back and forth, so you don't read back and forth. Duh. But somehow this didn't occur to me until I was 14 rows into the pattern and wondering why my hat brim didn't match all of the pictures of Chapeau on Ravelry.
Sigh.

But, rest assured, it's all worth it. It really is a beautiful hat, and I will post pictures if I ever bother to blog from home, where my camera is, rather than from my place of employment. I'm actually quite jealous of my swap buddy, the lucky recipient of this hat, and I can't wait to knit one for myself.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

the let down . . .

So, I was forewarned about this in many a knitting book, but still, I wasn't prepared for it: that feeling you get when people don't appreciate your knitted gifts "enough."
I finished the Guitar Man Socks on Sunday, after feverishly knitting them for 2 straight weeks, breaking mostly for work and sleep. I picked these socks for my Dad because 1.) they're cool and 2.) they're called "guitar man socks." I thought that was a sign. My Dad has played guitar in various church "folk" groups for my whole life. We don't think it's a party until Dad has serenaded everyone with a raucous version of The Kingston Trio's "MTA." He even taught me to play guitar and gave me the guitar I now own. So, in short, Dad is the consumate guitar man. When I found the pattern, I knew these were his socks.
I gave him the socks on Sunday. He was appreciative. He said thank you and commented that they were "very nice." And then he wrapped them back up and put them back in the gift bag. He did not try them on. He did not comment on the many hours I put into them. He did not marvel at the stitch pattern. In short, he reacted as if I'd purchased a pair of socks and given them to him instead of slaving over 2 and a half balls of yarn for weeks to craft a pair of lovingly handknit socks. Boo.
Obviously my Dad could not know that many hours and calamities and do-overs that went into the socks. He does not know that I think I've given myself carpal tunnel syndrome, or that the tip of my left index finger is now calloused from repeatedly jamming a knitting needle into it. And, since he's not a knitter, he can't possibly know just how complicated socks are. But still. I am a little disappointed in his non-reaction. Which I know is silly, but, well, I can't change the way I feel.
Stitch N Bitch is right, save your difficult knitting projects for your knitting friends who can really appreciate the effort!
Incidentally, sock#2 went off without a hitch--not one problem. I got the right and wrong sides correct, it turned out the same size as the first sock, there was no frogging. I even picked up the stitches and did the gusset perfectly--no little hole!
Now I can focus completely on Chapeau Marnier, which I'll also be knitting feverishly. Once that's done, maybe I'll finally be able to knit at a leisurely pace again!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

keep on truckin'

I'm just plugging away at sock #2. I finished the top ribbing and am almost done the first pattern repeat (8 more to go!). I didn't get any knitting done on the way home yesterday because I couldn't get a seat on the stupid Metro (a very tall, very polite gentleman nearly knocked me unconscious with a rolled up newspaper in his rush to claim a seat that became available directly next to where I was hanging onto the overhead rail for dear life--have I mentioned how much I love the Metro?), but I did tackle a few rows this morning on the way in. I was planning to knit through lunch, but my co-workers forced me to have lunch with them instead. Probably a good thing, I'm pretty quiet and I really should be making more of an effort to get to know people. They deduced from this brief lunch that I don't know enough "malas palabras" in Spanish--guess I'd better work on that too. ;o)
Ravelry is too much fun. I've added a bunch of patterns to my queue that I know are way too advanced for me, but I'll get to them eventually. I also found a local knitting meetup, but unfortunately they meet at 7pm on Wednesday nights and I don't get home from work until 7 (if I'm lucky!). In perusing the site, I found out that one of my favorite knitbloggers is in Baltimore--I'm not sure why I find that important, I guess I just luuuurve my hometown so much.
I recently got the Spring 2007 Interweave Knits in the mail. Why Spring? That's a good question. I signed up in June for a free trial issue. Two months later, I had received 2 bills, but no issue. So I emailed customer service, who responded that I should've received the Spring issue by now. I always love when a customer service person tells you what should've happened "by now." Yes, I'm aware of what should've happened, why else would I be contacting you to tell you that it didn't happen? At any rate, about 2 days after that email, I finally received the Spring issue. Definitely some cute patterns, but I'm still up in the air about paying $25 for a full year--most of the patterns are too advanced for me at this point, and there are so many free patterns available in the world. . . yet, I know certain patterns are always becoming "all the rage" (ex: the Tilted Duster) and should one of those happen to catch my fancy, I wouldn't want to pay $5+ for one pattern when I could've had the entire issue for the same price.
I should have waiting patiently for me at home a fresh package from Knit Picks. I ordered the extra sock yarn (grrr), plus the yarn for the adult bonnet and the anthropologie-inspired capelet. Yay!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

hey, look at that, i have a blog!

I really didn't forget, I have just been so busy for the last week, mostly with furiously knitting the socks for my Dad--which still aren't done, so why did I bother?
I finished up sock #1 of the pair last night. It looks a bit on the small side, but I'm going to block a bit to stretch out the heel (which came out quite snug) and then hope that since the yarn has some elastic, they'll fit. The smart thing to do would've been to take some measurements, I'm sure, but then it's hard to make a surprise gift, isn't it? The socks are big on my foot, and my Dad isn't an especially big guy, so hopefully it will all work out. Or, he can hang them up for Christmas . . .

It's beautiful, if I do say so myself, the pattern on the leg turned out quite well. My only problem was myself (as usual!)--at some point I lost track of RS and WS, so when I started knitting in the round again after picking up stitches, the pattern was on the inside of the sock! Oops. Of course, I didn't notice this until a few rows later, so I had to rip out an hour's worth of work and start again. I have high hopes for avoiding this mistake on sock #2.
Today is an historic day--I knit on the Metro for the first time! Well, I didn't so much knit as cast on for sock #2 and divide the stitches. But that's something. It actually almost didn't happen, as I managed to scatter my DPNs all over the platform trying to remove the pattern from my pseudo-knitting bag. And it's Washington, so not a single person tried to help me pick them up. ;o)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

hallelujah!

Here it is, finally, the A.S.S.!

I'm so sick of this thing. I just want to get it out of my house! Unfortunately, I was too busy today to drive it to my parents' house, so it will remain here for another week.
No major problems with the finishing, although seaming the shoulders was tricky--I could only find instructions for "faking grafting" bound off edges in stockinette. But since this is ribbed, those instructions didn't quite work. Perhaps I should've tried another method, but that was the only option provided for seaming bound off top edges in Knitting for Dummies. Mattress stitch on the sides was tedious, but easy, although one side seam is perfectly invisible, as it should be, and the other, slightly more noticeable (maybe just to me, since I know what I'm looking for).
Now, on to smaller and better things, namely the Guitar Man Socks for Dad and Chapeau Marnier, which, as you may have guessed, is for my One Skein Exchange buddy, lucky girl. ;o) The socks are off to a great start, although I'm slightly concerned that I won't have enough yarn--I guess I wasn't paying attention when I ordered, or assumed 2 skeins would be enough, 1 skein per sock. But the instructions actually call for 3 skeins. I'm not quite sure how to figure this out--my current approach is to continue knitting the first sock, and if it looks like 1 skein won't be enough, I'll have to order a third and hope it ships fast. I may also alter the pattern a bit to make a slightly shorter sock. I love the stitch pattern on these, it looks great and it's very simple, just a combo of knits and purls that I hopefully won't mess up.
I have also started Chapeau Marnier, sort of. I actually knit 3 rows and then had to frog, I lost a stitch somewhere (or probably forgot a YO). CM is my first attempt at using a circular needle, and frankly, I don't love it. Maybe I just bought a cheap needle, but the joins for the cable are quite bumpy--I'm a slow enough knitter without having to stop every 2 minutes to finagle the yarn over the joint. In fact, I think it took me longer to get the yarn off the needle when I frogged than it took me to knit it on in the first place!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

again, i have no pictures

I know, I suck. I swear, I will post some pics in my next blog!
I finished up the A.S.S. front on Tuesday night. It looks pretty great! It's not perfection, but I am satisfied with it. I've decided that I will not be frogging the back, I'm just going to let sleeping stitches lie and focus on how great the front looks. Not to mention, most of the wonky stitches were on/near the edges, so they'll be hidden in seams or under the arms, etc. So, the plan is to block the pieces on Friday night--since they're ribbed, they don't need much, I just want to make both pieces about the same size--and seam everything up on Saturday, ultimately gifting it to my Mom on Sunday. My only concern now (well, besides seaming, which is always frustrating) is that the neck hole won't be large enough for Mom's head to get through. I used a supposedly-flexible bind off for the front (a decrease bind off, which, frankly, didn't seem all that much stretchier than my usual bind off--I'm really bind off impaired), but the back was a regular plain Jane bind off. I guess I'll find out soon enough if the sweater is actually wearable! And then--THEN!--I will have pictures, either of someone wearing the sweater, or someone stumbling around with a sweater halfway over her head . . .
Yesterday I took a break from knitting--I actually brought my knitting to work, thinking about knitting away my lunch hour, but I forgot the stitch markers that I need for Chapeau Marnier-- and tonight I'm going out after work, so it looks like I won't start tackling the hat or Dad's socks until this weekend. I'm annoyed with myself, since I'm kinda on a deadline for both, but I really blame the A.S.S. for being so overly-dramatic.
Less than a month until I mail off my knitting to my One Skein Exchange buddy. I want to come up with some goodies to include with it, any ideas?
Also, I checked in with Ravelry yesterday--only 900+ people are in front of me in line! Sounds like a lot, but it used to be 3,000 or so! Come on, invite!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

knitting: the cause of and solution to all of life's problems

Hmm, maybe Homer actually said that about alcohol . . .
I think I'm starting to develop a knitblogger inferiority complex. I've been reading so many knitting blogs recently (I need to update my blogroll so I can share some good ones!), and finding people who are producing the most amazing stuff, and I can't get through a simple ribbed sleeveless shell without drama. I'm just so eager to be one of those knitters, and instead I'm this knitter: slow, and mostly confused. Boo. I know I'm being ridiculous, given that I just started knitting in January and many knitbloggers I come across have been knitting since they were in utero, but I'm just not a very patient person. I want to be an awesome knitter, and I want to be one NOW!
On to the actual knitting: I got some knitting done on the drive this weekend, though I still haven't started either my Dad's socks or Chapeau Marnier--I really need to get my act together. I've finished the armhole decreases on the front of the A.S.S. and they look infinitely better than the back. I still don't know if they're "right," but I was sure to be consistent in my knitting so they at least match. The problem with the pattern is, the decrease instructions go something like, "k2, p1, p2tog, knit in rib to end of the row." Well, you've just taken away a stitch, so I no longer have an even rib pattern--do I just continue k2p2, which seemingly would throw off the ribs, or do I knit the stitches as they appear? Let's be clear here, pattern writers! I opted for knitting the stitches as they appeared, and that seems to have been a good choice. I'm hoping against hope that I can finish the front tonight, but I think tomorrow is more likely. Mom's birthday is Friday, so if I want her to have her gift at any date close to her birthday, I don't really have time to frog the back and redo it . . . Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

knitting knowledge

I come to you during my lunch hour (it's far, far too hot and humid and generally revolting to venture outside for lunch), but I may disappoint some as I don't have much to share. I've knit a few more inches of the A.S.S., but nothing very exciting.
However, I have been somewhat (ok, profoundly and irritatingly) bored at work most of this week (I appreciate them starting me off slow, but really, I'd rather be busy than left staring at my cube partition for 7 hours straight), so I've been doing a lot of reading about knitting. And I wanted to share with you some great ideas and tips I've come across.
Here's a great collection of bind offs from Knitty. And even more.
And, while we're at it, a variety of cast ons, too.
Here's the craziest damn sock knitting gambit I've ever come across.
Here's some great info on not accidently destroying your knitting by attempting to clean it.
As you can see, there all come from Knitty.com. I love Knitty's patterns, but the "Features," which are often overlooked, include bunches of great articles (all the back issues are available) on techniques, tips and tricks, etc.
I didn't manage to find, however, what I was originally looking for: some kind of easy-as-pie tutorial, and maybe a swatch or sampler to go with it, on Fair Isle--something like Silver's sock class. Ah, well.
Ok, I do actually have some work to do today, so I should get back to it. Tonight when I get home, I'm planning to join the second ball of yarn to the A.S.S. front and at least knit up to the armhole decreases. I'm afraid I won't get much knitting in this weekend--I've got a wedding tomorrow night, then a weekend trip to the beach with my parents, so I can't exactly be knitting their gifts right in front of them. I may cast on Chapeau Marnier so I can knit in the car, it's a 2.5 hour drive to la playa . . .

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Steady as she goes

I've been working diligently on the front of the A.S.S., but as it starts with 14 inches of k2p2 rib, it's pretty mundane knitting-wise and certainly not worthy of a photo. If you're really curious, you can look back at the picture from the back of the A.S.S. ;o) I've got approximately 7 inches done, so about halfway to the crucial mark--the armhole decreases, which really tripped me up on the back. I certainly hope the knitting gods smile on me for the front and I have more success with it.
If I ever finish the A.S.S. (and to think, I wanted it done by this weekend-hah!), I'm going to take a page out of Leann's knitting book (well, blog) and block them together. This seems like a relatively painless way to ensure that they come out the same size, and will certainly take up less space than blocking them seperately--I think my husband is getting annoyed finding random surfaces in our home covered with knitting. But I don't have a blocking board, so what's a girl to do?
Though I still haven't tried it myself yet, yesterday I saw a woman knitting on the Metro. This isn't the first time I've seen someone doing it, but it is the first time I've seen it since I started knitting myself. So instead of just staring in wonder, I could really appreciate what she was doing--happily knitting a sock on a circular needle with self-striping yarn while everyone pushed and shoved and stunk (stank? Anyway, it's been ridiculously hot and humid here, so the trains are full of sweaty, stinky people!) around her. I was quite jealous, particularly as I have been rather disappointed with the book I'm reading on the train every day. Still, I feel the A.S.S. may be a bit large for train knitting, so perhaps I will wait until I have a more compact project to work on.
(On a side note, I'm trying to win a referral contest at TreasureTrooper.com, so if anyone would like to help me out, please CLICK HERE to sign up and complete one offer. It's quick, painless and, most importantly, free; and you can even start earning yourself some extra pocket change. I made $60 last month--it's all for the pretty yarn!)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

a breather

I've taken a short breather from knitting this week, in an attempt to recover from my two most recent yarn disasters, as well as to focus on starting my new job. The job is good so far, everyone is nice and I haven't been overwhelmed with work right off the bat.
The most difficult part is getting used to working in an environment that is primarily Spanish-speaking--it's strange to hear almost no English for 8 straight hours (well, being in the U.S.; I never think it's weird to hear no English in Nicaragua, Peru, etc., obviously). People are very willing to speak to me in English, but I think I prefer using Spanish, it's good practice (of course, I'm sure they feel the same way about using English)! On the downside, by the end of the day I get so used to speaking in Spanish that when I arrive home, I almost forget to switch back to English (and hubby doesn't speak a word of Spanish).
I also find it weird to hug and kiss your coworkers hello, but I understand that that is very normal within Latin American/Spanish culture, so I just have to get used to it. ;o)
It feels like so long ago, but Tuesday I got a special surprise email from my One Skein exchange knitter! I was really excited--I'll admit, I was somewhat worried that no one was knitting for me because there are a few Kristens in the group and the possibility of everyone thinking they were assigned another Kristen seemed very real. But no worries now, as someone is definitely knitting for me, and she seems very nice. :o)
So, I've made it through my first half-week at work, and now I can relax a bit. Today I plan to cast on for the front of the A.S.S. (hee!) and see if that goes any better than the back. Monday I should be receiving my KnitPicks order so I can get started on my Dad's birthday socks and Chapeau Marnier. Maybe next week I will give knitting on the Metro a try . . .

Monday, July 30, 2007

will the knitting disasters never end?

Let me tell you, I really know how to pick a pattern. I've been working on the All Season Shell for a few days now, and finished up the back this morning. I use the term "finished" loosely because I may or may not be frogging most or all of it. But here it is anyway. It looks pretty good from far away:

I thought I picked a simple pattern for my first (sleeveless) sweater. But the pattern I chose was, in fact, too simple--some parts of it were very vague, which left me guessing how to work the stitches, and not always coming up with the correct answer. The row count was also amiss, complicating things further. I know what you're thinking--if I've been having so many problems with patterns recently, maybe the problem is me, right? I was beginning to suspect the same, but then came across another blog with complaints about the A.S.S. (hah!) pattern. So, the problem is not me. At least, not this time.
Here's my first "iffy" area: the armholes.


Armhole on the left side looks ok, but on the right, the decreases are a bit wonky. Worth frogging for? Maybe. This is a gift, but I'm sure my mother doesn't expect perfection. And unless you're looking for it, you might miss it.
Problem number 2, also with the decreases, this time, at the top of the shoulders:
Again, some wonky stitches with the decreases, likely because I had to unravel a row to redo the neck bind off (more on that later!) and ended up with some twisted stitches--I tried to fix them all, but, you know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions . . . The bound off edges are also a little messy, but they'll be hidden in the seams, so I'm not as worried about them.
And the biggest dilemma--the neck. My old enemy, the bind off, has risen up to torment me again. I bound off the neck stitches once, and they were way too tight. I undid them and tried again with a larger needle, and still very tight. Will my mother even be able to fit her head through the neck hole? It's impossible to know without having the front done, but I'm worried.
So, should I frog it? Ideally I'd like to be able to unravel up to the armholes and try that whole mess again, but, as I think I bemoaned before, unraveling isn't my strong suit. I usually end up dropping stitches and making a mess of things, especially with ribbing, where the stitches aren't all in a row. I could just rip out the entire thing, but doing the initial 14 inches of K2P2 rib was a little mind-numbing, and I already have to do it again for the front; I don't know if I could do it twice more while maintaining my sanity--although it may be just the kind of thoughtless knitting that I could do on the Metro.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Happy Cal Ripken Jr. Day!

Cal is being inducted today, hurrah for him! Now, on to the knitting . . .

Since The Devil's Shawl has been banished for its insolence (well, actually, it's just crumpled up on the couch awaiting divine intervention; God probably knits, right?), I've moved on to the All Season Shell. So far, it's not much to look at:

This is the back, and I've now reached the point where I can start shaping the armholes. It's not the most exciting pattern to work on, but since this is my first real sweater, sleeveless though it may be, I thought it best to keep it simple.
Tomorrow I'll be ordering more goodies from Knit Picks. For reasons unknown to me, the local Michael's refuses to carry straight needles under size 3 or DPNs under size 6, it seems, so I'll be buying some from Knit Picks. I really want to buy the Options interchangeable set, but since they're so $$ I'm holding off in the hopes that a kind soul will buy them for me for my birthday (in October). I still haven't used circs yet, but I ordered my first set from eBay last week (Michael's stock of circs is even more pitiful, and the size 2 circs are out of stock at Knit Picks for whatever reason) in preparation for working on Chapeau Marnier.
In my last post with the knitting quiz, I came across a term unfamiliar to me, so I decided to do some research on "steeking." Dear Lord, not for the faint of heart! Apparently steeking is a technique where one voluntarily cuts HOLES in a piece of knitting! I can't even fathom doing that. Just thinking about it makes me want to lie down with a cold compress across my forehead. Of course, this technique is used to make this adorable vest that I've decided I desperately need. Between the steeking and the colorwork, I think it's safe to say I am never going to own this vest. Sigh.
Stranding, Fair Isle, colorwork--whatever you want to call it, it's on my list of things to learn, I just don't know how to tackle it. While I've managed to teach myself what I know about knitting so far using books and online videos, I really wish I had a Grandma to teach me something this complex.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Two quizzes I stole from someone else's blog . . .

I nabbed these from Leann. ;o)

KNITTING QUIZ:
Mark with bold the things you have knit, with italics the ones you plan to do sometime, and leave the rest.

Afghan
I-cord
Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Shawl
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Hat
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Sweater
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own hand-spun yarn
Slippers
Graffiti knitting
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Participate in an exchange
Scarf
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting
Knitting to make money
Buttonholes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s hand-spun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Bobbles
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Steeks
Knitting art
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Fulling/felting
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener stitch
Knitted flowers
Purses/bags
Knitting with beads
Swatching
Long Tail CO
Entrelac
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Darning
Jewelry
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Gloves
Intarsia
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Free-form knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm-warmers
Pillows
Knitting a pattern from an on-line knitting magazine
Rug
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Shrug/bolero/poncho
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public


BOOK QUIZ:

Look at the list of (100) books below.
Bold the ones you’ve read.
Italicize the ones you want to read.
Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
Movies don’t count.


1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez) - it's been sitting on my bookshelf for ages, my TBR list is so long!
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

it's official!

I went down to DC today to review my official job offer. I signed it, so now I'm officially employed by the Organization of American States. My official start date is August 1! Woo hoo! I'm officially psyched! I finally feel like I didn't waste $40,000 on graduate school.

In knitting news, The Devil's Shawl has been moved to a spare needle until I can figure out what to do with it. I may try to very slowly and carefully unravel 8 rows and see if I can get it back on track. If that doesn't work, I'm going to have to frog it completely, and I know that will leave me a tangle of yarn (this lace weight yarn gets tangled if I look at it funny, I swear!), good for little else than a cat toy, so I hope it doesn't come to that. Wish me luck!