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.

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!