Tuesday, December 30, 2008

a post-Christmas miracle!

Check it out:

Yes, the tangled yoke portion of the Tangled Yoke Cardigan is complete! After the painful process of unknitting an entire row was complete, this actually went rather smoothly. And screwing it up the first time was actually a blessing in disguise, because I moved on to other projects, namely the Shifting Sands Scarf, which forced me to learn cabling without a cable needle, which ultimately led to a much faster tangled yoke.

I wish this would be done in time to wear on New Year's Day, but as I've promised to host dinner for the family, my house is a disaster area, and I have no idea what I'm cooking, I sincerely doubt it.

In other news, I'm trying to clean out some yarn odds and ends and get rid of a few things I just don't think I'll use, so check out my destash page over on Rav. (Prices are posted, but I'm really flexible, so make an offer.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Warm Ewe Up Question #1

Why did you learn to knit?

Wow, that's a toughie . . . for some reason the idea of knitting always fascinated me, even though I have no knitting grandmas, or any other knitting relatives, for that matter. I really liked the idea of producing something useful and functional; my head was full of fantasies about whipping out gorgeous sweater after gorgeous sweater (oh, to be so young and naive!). So a couple years ago I mentioned to Santa that a "Learn to Knit" kit was on my wishlist, and once it turned up under the tree, the rest, as they say, is history.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Under the Knit-mas Tree . . .

Santa left a plethora of knitting goodness under the tree for me this year:

Let's see, we've got some sock blockers, Cat Bordhi's Sock Soar on Two Circular Needles, DPN tubes, Claudia Handpainted Yarns in Antique Jeans, some Kookaburra wash, a chart keeper, Berroco Sox in Leeds, and The Little Box of Socks. Plenty to keep me busy, that's for sure.

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday. After the pre-Christmas knitting rush, I'm taking a break for a couple days--especially since I caught a cold somewhere along the way--but the plan is to finish up some WIPs before starting some fresh projects in the new year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

in which i post actual pictures!

Hey, guess what? I actually knit stuff! Here's the current status of the projects that are on the needles:

Shifting Sands/Winter Sky scarf (pseudo-artsy photo; it's about 3/4 done):

Glovely (1 down, 2nd one on the needles):

Gansey Gloves:

The Gansey Gloves (11th hour gloves) are a Christmas gift for Dad that will hopefully actually be done by Christmas. I think I'm going to leave the fingertips open so he can wear them while working. I'm using a worsted weight yarn, but size 2 needles (as specified in the pattern), so they're working up pretty quickly, but they're not all that comfortable to knit.

I also FINALLY managed to get this baby pinned out:

If it's dry by Christmas Eve, then we're in business.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sock Surprises, 2009

I have honest to goodness made significant progress on several knitting projects. Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating with my need to photograph said knitting; it's gray and depressing (just rain, no snow! booooo!) so I can't get any decent photos. Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

In other news, the awesome and talented Knittymuggins (who is even more awesome than usual right now because it's snowing on her blog!) is always putting ideas in my head with her blog, and here's another great one: a Personal Sock Club. Basically you take some of your stashed sock yarn (don't be ridiculous, of course you have some!), match it up with some sock patterns, seal each pairing up in an unmarked bag, and pick one bag each month (or in my case, every other month, as I have no delusions about being able to knit a pair of socks a month) for a surprise sock knitting experience.

I've packaged up 2 unfinished sock projects (Pomatomus, who needs a match, and Windowpane Socks), along with these stashed yarns:

And matched them with these patterns:


Froot Loop



Here they are, all packaged up and waiting to be knit in '09!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

not so "Amazon" customer service . . . and a Merry Christmas to you too!

Certainly I should have some knitting to write about, and I do, but I’m dedicating this space to a rant today (tomorrow we will return to our regularly-scheduled list of excuses about why I’m not done my Christmas knitting). A rant against a former friend: Amazon.com.

Last year I did nearly all of my Christmas shopping on Amazon. I got fantastic deals. Nearly everything shipped for free. Everything shipped quickly and well in advance of Christmas. I even managed to get my hands on a Wii. No complaints.

This year J’s big Christmas gift is a Blu Ray player. I ordered one last week from Amazon. It arrived yesterday. SANS PACKAGING. Amazon, in its infinite wisdom, saw fit—two weeks before CHRISTMAS—to ship this expensive piece of electronic equipment in its original packaging, with a label slapped on the front. As if no one is buying super secret Christmas gifts on Amazon this time of year. I must be the only one. Not to mention that while a would-be thief could certainly skulk up to my house and snap up any boring brown box the mailman has left lying on my doorstep, it seems all the more likely if “Samsung Blu Ray player” is emblazoned across the front of a box featuring a large photo of said player.

Needless to say I was irate. IRATE. And quickly wrote a complaint to Amazon. And now, for your reading enjoyment, Amazon’s response:

Hello from Amazon.com.

I'm sorry to hear about the condition in which your order arrived.

Please note that, we make every attempt to package items securely to protect them during shipping, but sometimes such situations may occur.

We always appreciate customer input on how we can improve our store, and I've forwarded your message to our shipping department.

Again, I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you with our packaging.

Also, thanks for letting us know your "Samsung BD-P1500 1080p Blu-ray Player" arrived.

I hope you enjoy your "Samsung BD-P1500 1080p Blu-ray Player".

Uh, does anyone else get the feeling they didn’t even READ the message I sent? I did not have a problem with the packaging—I had a problem with the absence of packaging. This isn’t an oversight—the packaging didn’t fall off because it was improperly secured. No, some (perhaps lazy) moron honestly thought it was ok to ship a naked potential Christmas gift to my home 2 weeks before Christmas. And apparently Amazon—continually touting itself as THE place to do your holiday shopping—doesn’t give a damn.

So, what’s my next step?

Incidentally, I told J I ordered the player for my mom to give to my dad. But I don’t think he believes me.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Warm Ewe Up Swap questionnaire

Do you knit or crochet, or both? How long have you been at the craft?

Just knit, no crochet (and no real interest, except I love this bookmark every time I see it). I've been knitting for almost 2 years now

Do you spin?

Nope, haven't gotten there yet. Maybe someday. ;)

What yarns/fibers are your favorites?

Wool silk blends, wool/alpaca blends, really just about anything natural. Manos silk blend is my current favorite, and I'm itching to get my hands on some more malabrigo.

What yarns/fibers do you not like?

Acrylics and novelty yarns. Bamboo on its own is too flimsy, but I like it in a blend.

What yarns/fibers would you like to try but haven't?

Fearless Fibers looks yummy, I still haven't tried Noro, and Tofutsies is just so intriguing.

What are your favorite colors? Colors that you don't like?

I love blues and dark greens, reds, plums, etc. can't stand orange, or anything neon bright. I also only like variegateds for socks--they just don't work for me on anything else.

What are your favorite types of projects to knit/crochet?

Just about anything, it all depends on the mood. But I like to knit functional things, not so into knitting random "stuff," I stick to clothes and accessories.

What are you currently working on?

Christmas gifts! And a tangled yoke cardigan that's causing some trouble.

What is your favorite FO? (Please post a picture if you have one.)

Still my Lotus Blossom tank, since I don't seemed to have managed many FOs as of late; it might be my Hemlock Ring Blanket, if I ever block the thing.


Are there any techniques that you want to learn?

Socks on circs, steeking, maybe magic loop. I've dabbled in colorwork, but definitely need to improve my technique.

Do you have a yarn winder and/or swift?

Yes, thankfully!

How do you store your needles/hooks?

They're a bit of a mess. I keep them all in a bag (or several bags, spread out around the house), but they're not exactly organized.

Do you collect anything?

Matryoshka, Beatles LPs . . . and yarn!

Do you like sweets?

Of course!

What are your favorite scents?

Christmas trees, fireplaces, baked goods, lilacs, fresh cut grass, clean laundry

Are you having a birthday during this swap?


Do you have any online wish lists? (Amazon, Loopy Ewe, etc.) Please include a link for your pal.

Loopy Ewe

What is your living situation (Are you married? Do you have kids, pets, or both?)

Married with 3 very spoiled cats

Are you allergic to anything?

No. well, maybe work ;)

Is there anything else that you would like your pal to know?

nope, that's pretty much it, although all questions are certainly welcome

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Warm Ewe Up

Want to give a big shout out (er--or something less 1996ish) to Raveler karenBK who was my spoiler for the Falling for Ewe swap! She was a fantastic spoiler, and I can't thank her enough for all of the awesome yarn and other goodies she sent my way!

Also, for anyone who was exceptionally jealous of all the autumn swapping fun, hurry over to the Warm Ewe Up winter swap and sign up for the next go 'round!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

rock on

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and has stuffed themselves accordingly as a kick off to the "eating season": the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year when you constantly have a mouth full of food.

Thanksgiving was a little stressful for me this year. I offered to host, so my Mom could have a break and focus on her health issues, but she refused--so my sister and I ended up trekking over to her house several hours early on Thursday to do the cooking in her tiny kitchen. Of course, despite strict instructions to kick back and relax, she insisted on fussing about the kitchen, snarling at us when we tried to do something the "wrong" way. Not really relaxing for anyone. But the food was good and there was plenty of it--so much that I couldn't even manage to scarf down any pie after dinner.

So after that nonsense, I was happy to return home from Thanksgiving #2 (at the in-laws) last night to find my third package from the Falling for Ewe yarn swap. Check out the awesomeness:

The dark yarn, I'm quite happy to say, is Socks That Rock! I've been dying to try it, I'm so psyched. The lighter yarn is a delightfully squishy wool/silk blend that I can't wait to knit something snuggly with.

In other knitting news, I'm slowly slowly slowly working on un-knitting the last row of the Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I have very limited patience for it, so I give up every 10 stitches or so.

I did manage to finished a project, I'm happy to say: the Through the Loops Mystery Socks are complete.Lovely pattern, interesting but not overly complicated.

And I've managed to actually get started on 2 Christmas gifts!

Classic Gloves

Using some KPPP I originally bought to make socks for J and then realized didn't have the necessary yardage.

Shifting Sands

Using this GORGEOUS Manos del Uruguay silk blend in pewter; I just adore this shade of gray/blue.

Shifting Sands, I'm delighted to report, has me using all kinds of new techniques. First, I decided to try Jared/Brooklyn Tweed's mods to create a hem, so I did a provisional cast on. Then, after finding the constant cabling too fiddly, I decided to try cabling without a cable needle. I got the hang of it very quickly I'm glad to say (I've knit about 2 more inches since I took the picture), and it really makes this a much much easier project--I knit through Home Alone this afternoon. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Remember how I said this cable didn't look too difficult, and I would definitely have the sweater done by Thanksgiving? I'm sure some of you tried to stifle a giggle--and you were oh so right.

I just finished row 3 of the cable chart, and had an extra stitch at the end. So, where did I go wrong? I don't know. I assume I miscounted stitches somewhere along the way . . . and I have no idea how to fix this. If I rip out the row, all the stitches will be out of order, and it will take approximately eleventy jillion years to get them back on the needle in their correct order and then do the row all over again.

Sigh. With so much Christmas knitting to be done, I really don't have time for these kinds of knitting hijinx. Grrrr.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

tangled up in heather and tweed

Well, it's been a long time coming, but we're finally at the crucial point: the tangled yoke of the Tangled Yoke Cardigan (cue trumpets, loud cheering, general fanfare.).

The cable doesn't look overly-complicated, just time consuming. I'm still not sure about the bobbles--I'm not really a "bobble" kinda girl--but they're small and unassuming, so perhaps it will work. (I've also read ahead in the pattern a bit and am quite confused by the instructions for the neckband--something about picking up stitches, and folding something over something else and doing a three needle bind off and then, ta-da! a neckband! so if anyone has any insight on that segment, please let me know.)

Still plugging away on the second TTL sock, but making good progress, and also cast on for the famous chevron scarf for my sister for Christmas, which is easy peasy, but slow going all the same (and since it involves two balls of yarn, not very portable).

Unfortunately I'm way, WAY behind on a bunch of other Christmas gifts, despite my best efforts not to be "that knitter" this year. So i may be cutting down the list a bit.

And I'll admit, until right this very second, I'd completely forgotten that I even have the henley perfected on the needles as well. Oops. Needless to say, no progress there.

And no--no hat, scarf or gloves for yours truly either. And it's really getting chilly here--snow flurries yesterday (that I missed, stuck in a boring meeting). Hopefully I can squeeze them in between gifts--I really don't want to wait until after Christmas to finally have cozy knits of my own.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Falling for Ewe Question of the Week #7

What foods do you like to bake this time of year?
Are there any that are traditional to you?

I LOVE to bake, I'm definitely more of a baker than a cook. This time of year it's anything pumpkin--muffins, bread, cheesecake, etc. (but no pie until Thanksgiving!) Pretty soon it will be Christmas cookies, and probably foodie holiday gifts for people in the office. I usually try a few new, creative cookies, but always stick with a few traditional ones too. I'd like to try chrusciki (Polish angel wings) again, but they're quite a handful!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stitches East: Review

Well, that's it. That's my haul from Stitches. I was positively restrained, I tell you (no, not physically, although in retrospect some kind of shocking device wouldn't have been a bad idea . . . ). Left to right we have a skein of laceweight from Knitting Notions in Pumpkin Spice, Malabrigo lace in Brillante, Tornado Sock from StormMoonKnits in I Kissed a Girl (LOVE her colorway names), Malabrigo Sock in Impressionist Sky, and another skein of laceweight from Knitting Notions in Dark Rose. How'd I do?

Additional yarns were calling out to me, of course--I could hear their whispers as I wandered the aisles, it was a touch disconcerting--but I managed to pull my grubby little hands away from the Manos del Uruguay silk blends, and some beautiful blue-faced leicester sock yarn (which, at $28/skein, I really didn't need--ok, I really didn't need it at any price!), not to mention all the Koigu and Dream in Color and Cherry Tree Hill and . . . well, the list goes on, there was certainly no shortage of yarn.

I got to the Market around 10:30 yesterday morning. The nice thing about being a Baltimore native is that I knew where to park on the cheap, so I got street parking for $1/hour instead of being sucked dry by a garage near the Convention Center. Since I'm usually in the city for baseball games and nights out, I was surprised by how quiet it was in the morning. It was downright enjoyable, meandering the streets in peace (without fearing for my life; I don't want to scare anyone away from Baltimore, as it is an awesome city, but it's tricky--there are some pretty unsafe neighborhoods in very close proximity to the tourist traps). Here's a random shot of the Bromo Seltzer Tower I took on my walk:

As I set foot in the market, the first thing I did was make a beeline for WEBS, where I picked up the Malabrigo. I'm sure my Falling for Ewe swap partner was well-intentioned in sending me a gorgeous skein of Malabrigo a couple months ago, but she's created a monster. Now I'm obsessed with it, and truly felt that if I didn't get a skein of their sock yarn, I was going to off somebody--and with so very many pointy knitting needles around, well, controlling that impulse may have been difficult. Fortunately, I was placated early on. (Not to mention a bit weirded out being rung up at the WEBS booth by Steve, whose melodious voice serenades me via podcast while I [pretend to] work.)

After accomplishing that task, I mostly wandered about looking at, petting, and occasionally buying yarn. To be honest, I was a little disappointed not to see more "young" (hardy har har) knitters my age. Perhaps they decided to wait until the afternoon to shop--nursing all those Friday night hangovers! After a quick trip to feed the meter, I trotted back to the Convention Center and took a spin around the concession area looking for the lunchtime Ravelry meet up, but didn't spot anyone. I abandoned the yarn briefly to peruse books, but didn't happen across any of the Norah Gaughan volumes that I so desperately want/need. As the day wore on, the market grew more and more crowded until it was virtually impossible to monopolize a skein of yarn to pet, so I went on my merry way. I'm sure I would've enjoyed taking a class or two--hindsight is 20/20--and of course, rumor has it that next year Stitches is moving to Connecticut, so I guess I missed my chance.

What I really enjoyed was seeing so many people wearing handknits (despite it being a rather unseasonably warm 65 degrees in Charm City yesterday). Almost everyone had something on their person, and while there were certainly some What Not To Knits (oh, the fun fur, the overzealous ruffles, the bizarre color combos, the sheer itchiness of it all!), for the most part the various sweaters, shawls and socks were fashionable and inspiring.

However, please note, things I will NOT be knitting: the February Lady Sweater. I spotted 3 of them in the first hour at Stitches, it was a virtual parade.

Question of the Week #6

What seasonal knitting projects are you looking forward to?

I've got plenty of Christmas gifts waiting in the wings, does that count as seasonal (one of my coworkers said he wants gloves--but I'm sure he meant mittens, right?!?)? I don't think I'm going to get around to Christmas stockings this year either, but I am hoping to do a few of these knit Christmas ornaments. And of course, I'm still working on a collection of winter accessories for myself--I need a scarf, a hat, and some gloves. I've got the yarn . . . just not the time!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cowl Me

I know, I know, I promised to blog this past weekend and I didn't. That's me, I just don't keep my promises. Shame.

But look what I do have:

One sock! This is the Through the Loops Mystery Sock-along sock--so far it's a single sock without a mate, but I hope to finish the second one by the end of the month so I can post it to the group and be entered in the contest for more sock yarn. Because who doesn't need more sock yarn?

Not sure if I'll keep this pair or pass them along to my sister--I'm behind on Christmas knitting (of course!), so making them a gift seems the most logical thing to do.

Still plugging away on the Tangle Yoke sleeves (1 sleeve down, 1 to go), but I came down with a bout of startitis the other night and just had to knit something new. I've been meaning to knit myself a scarf (and a hat, and some gloves and . . . ), but haven't gotten around to it yet, so I decided a quick "transition" accessory was in order. I went with A Noble Cowl, and used my beloved Manos del Uruguay silk blend:

You can't really see the lace pattern very clearly here, but it's pretty and warm and not itchy, and that's what counts.

I did order the yarn for my scarf and gloves from The Loopy Ewe earlier this week--after which they promptly added some Malabrigo lace and sock yarns to their stock. Bummer. It would just be ridiculous to order from them again so quickly. So I keep reminding myself there will be plenty o' yarn to buy this weekend at Stitches!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stitches East!

I completely forgot, it's coming up in 2 weeks! Wheeeeeee! Anyone coming into town for it? Anyone? Seriously, I have no real life knitting friends, I need someone to walk around the market with. I have a guest room--you can stay at my house for free (note: axe murderers need not apply)! I'll be your tour guide in Baltimore for the whole weekend!

Hmmm, sounding a little desperate . . .

Knitting photos this weekend--I've almost finished a sock (I know, I'm calling the Vatican too; I'm pretty sure this qualifies as a miracle.).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

a long strange trip . . . plus knitting!

Finally a few minutes for a lengthy post about a million different things.

First, Peru: As I said in a previous post, I unfortunately did not have much time to be a tourist as, having paid for my hotel and airfare, my company actually expected me to do work for the majority of the time I was there. Fascists! I did have free time most evenings starting at about 7pm, but that's not an especially promising hour for museums, ancient ruins, etc. Fortunately it's a great time for eat and drinking—Peru is not the most vegetarian friendly country you'll ever visit, sadly for me (I ate a lot of potatoes and avocado), but I made up for the lack of food with pisco sours (which in retrospect . . . maybe not my best idea ever. Sigh.). I visited Larcomar (an outdoor mall along the ocean front in Barranco) a few times with my coworkers, went out dancing a couple times, and generally strove to ensure that I would wake up most mornings still tired and half hungover—but I had a good time! I did get a bit home sick—a nearly two week business trip is just too long for me—but I managed to find the playoffs on TV one night, so it felt a bit more like home.

I didn't manage to take many photos, and the ones I do have are of myself with my coworkers, which aren't particularly interesting, but, um, here are some pictures from my previous trip to Lima:

Once the weekend arrived, I was sadly a bit sidelined with a cold. Nothing too horrible, just a stuffy nose and feeling a bit groggy, but I stayed in on Saturday to knit and watch bad movies on TV. A little disappointing, but I actually felt much better after that, so I'm glad I rested.

I was not, sadly, able to identify where I could buy any alpaca yarn—plenty of alpaca products, but no actual yarn to be found. I went so far as to reveal my knitting obsession to one of my coworkers, who is Peruvian, in hopes that he might have an idea where I could search, but no such luck. I might've had an easier go of it had I been in the highlands—the last time I was in Peru we visited a fiber/weaving cooperative near Cuzco, but not having picked up knitting yet, I didn't make much of it. Stupid 25-year-old me!

Knitting: I attempted to knit my first ever Foliage on the plane—imagine my surprise when I actually read the pattern and found out it was a top down hat!—but it was, alas, a complete failure. I just could not get the stitch count right once I started on the repeats (Fortunately I was consoled by being bumped to first class on the flight from Miami to Lima!). Several knitters have noted that stitch markers are absolutely essential for this pattern, so I'll be sure to have plenty at my disposal when I try again. The Malabrigo was wonderful to knit with, at least, so squooshy.

I also started in on the Through the Loops Mystery KAL. Why would I do such a thing, with 2 pair of unfinished socks already on the needles? Good question. I have no answer for you, other than "I felt like it." (And also, "I have a lot of sock yarn!") I'm enjoying the pattern though, it's spicier than a plain stockinette sock, but simple enough that I don't have to put it down for a "cooling off" period after every round (I'm looking at you, Pomatomus!). I'm a little behind the group (still working on clue 2 and clue 4 was posted Wednesday), so I'm trying not to peek at anyone's photos.

And absolutely no progress on the Henley, but as I posted a few days ago, the Tangled Yoke is moving along at an acceptable pace. It won't be done by Halloween, but should certainly be done well in advance of Thanksgiving, barring a major disaster, like the cat eating the yarn, or the whole thing being devoured by a lawn mower.

I also got 2 absolutely gorgeous swap packages during the last month, one from the Falling for Ewe yarn swap, and the other from the Knit it Forward swap.



In other news, my mom is still in the hospital and it looks like she'll be there for a few days at least. She has Crohn's disease, and is dealing with the latest flare up (exacerbated by her refusal to take medicine, follow an appropriate nutrition plan, quit smoking, receive regular medical attention, or otherwise improve her health in any way, shape or form; yes, we have issues). I'm off to visit her this afternoon, and then--oh, then!--I have my TEN YEAR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION! Impossible, and yet it is so. Sigh.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

quick update

Sorry kids, things have been crazy since I got back from Peru--first just trying to catch up on sleep and work and my regularly scheduled life, and now my mom's in the hospital, so everything's a little crazy here. I can, however, tell you that I finished the first "phase" of the Tangled Yoke--I've knit the body up to the armholes, so now I'll start on the sleeves. Photos and hopefully a more substantive post soon!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

winding swiftly down the path . . .

See what I did there? Winding? Swiftly? Yes, it's true, the birthday fairy very generously bestowed upon me a swift and ball winder!! Hallelujah!

Many months ago I stumbled across this page about making your own swift. I sent the link to J, figuring he might be inclined to relive his wood shop days and take a crack at crafting one of these, but then I promptly forgot about it.

Fortunately, he didn't. While I was in Peru, he (with some help from his slightly handier Dad) gathered up the appropriate materials and hammered together a portable swift for yours truly. He also managed to figure out that alone it wasn't going to be of much use to me, so he also picked up a ball winder (perhaps you could DIY a winder too, but that seems a little over the top). And I found them both waiting for me when I arrived home Thursday night (barely coherent after 12 hours of travel and zero sleep the night before--don't celebrate your birthday by chugging pisco sours before the taxi comes to whisk you off to the airport at 3am).

I gave them a test run yesterday:Look at those adorably uniform cakes of yarn! Best. gift. ever.

Tomorrow: a smidge about Peru, although unfortunately I didn't have much time for touristing, as I worked all day and was knocked out by a cold on my one free weekend. :(

Friday, October 17, 2008

there's no place like home for the holidays . . .

and I guess Halloween counts as a holiday! I'm so, so happy to be back home. I have plenty to talk about, including some knitting-related nonsense, but I'm still recovering. So until I'm more coherent, I'll just leave you with Questions of the Week #s 4 and 5:

What do you plan on dressing up as for Halloween? If you are not dressing up, what will your kids be?

Hmm, I really don't know. We like to have a Halloween party, and if we do, I might do an 80s thing. I also really like the idea of dressing up as Amy Winehouse.

Do you like football? Who is your favorite team?

Meh, I don't really like football, but I watch it, and of course, cheer for the Ravens. (Can't tell you how excited I am to be back home watching baseball again! Of course, my team hasn't sniffed the playoffs in over 10 years, but I'm rooting for the Rays!)

Friday, October 3, 2008

all my bags are packed . . .

I'm ready to go . . . Well, ok, not quite, but I'm getting there. This time tomorrow I'll be well on my way to Lima, with plenty of knitting in tow. Have a good couples of weeks!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

nope, no cuy* for me!

So, I leave for Lima in just 4 days, and will sadly have to abandon some of my knitting for nearly 2 weeks. Dark days indeed.

The Henley will stay home. I cannot imagine trying to grapple with the lace on the plane, or after a long day of meetings, plus, aside from the one I’m currently using, none of the requisite skeins have been wound into balls. (Maybe by the time I get back, the birthday fairy [aka Josh] will have bestowed a much-needed swift and ball winder upon my humble home!)

I’ve started the armhole decreases!

Let me confirm that I absolutely cannot wrap my head around increases and decreases in lace. I'm sure there's some math to be done, plus and minuses to be tallied up, which, when done correctly, will tell you exactly how to decrease without throwing the whole thing out of whack. But this rational method is just not for me.

My current tack is to knit the 2 edge stitches, decrease, then peer at the row below to try to figure out where I should start the pattern (fortunately this isn't an especially complicated one). Is this a foolproof method? Certainly not. But it's working so far, and that's all I ask for. Until it fails completely, I'll stick with this method.

Tangled Yoke, the favored child, will come with me to Peru. The complicated part of the pattern is, well, the tangled yoke, and I’m still miles (ok, inches; possibly feet) away from it. I’ve knit about an inch past the garter rib, and just started increasing again.

Because of it’s size on the 40” circ, it’s a bit unwieldy and may not be ideal for the plane, though, so I may also bring some of the beautiful yarn my spoiler sent me and knock out a couple hats on the trip. Or at least try. (Based on the assumption that my needles won’t be confiscated.) Then I can destress with some Tangled Yoke knitting in my hotel room in the evenings. Yes, yes, I should be out exploring, meeting people, socializing, etc., but I really don’t think this will be that kind of trip. Too much work, too many long days. Plus, spending so much time with my coworkers during the day, I suspect I will need to escape them at night—which would leave me to wander the streets of Miraflores alone.

Ah, yes, and the reason I really haven’t accomplished much with these 2 projects (excuses, excuses): I’ve been knitting little goodies for another swap package.

This time it's the Knit It Forward bath-themed swap. It seemed as though some participants were just bursting at the seams with all kinds of fantastic bath-related project ideas, but this one kinda threw me for a loop. I just didn’t feel like knitting a bathmat or another set of washclothes. So I put a little mix together: headband, for holding hair back while washing face (something I am constantly without; note to self: knit second headband); soap sweater, because it’s cute and functional—and smells good!; and a little felted bowl for catching all those knick knacks that seem to accumulate in the bathroom. I knit them all with yarn leftovers, so I get a great sense of accomplishment in using up perfectly good yarn that’s just been collecting dust. Hopefully the recipient will enjoy them, I’ll be shipping them off this week before I leave--and will hopefully remember to snap a picture before I do (I would take one now, but the bowl's not exactly felted yet).

Don't forget, tomorrow is October 1, so I give you all permission to start eating pumpkin things! I don't have time, unfortunately, to bake and eat anything pumpkin-y before my trip, but I'll definitely be stopping at Starbucks on the way in to work for my pumpkin spice latte. ;)

*Cuy is guinea pig; Peruvians are terribly confused and think guinea pigs are food, rather than pets. Barf. Even if I weren't a vegetarian I wouldn't try it. And I don't want to hear that it tastes like chicken!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Falling for Ewe Question Week 3

What meals or foods mean ‘Fall’ to you?
I love Fall because it means I can start baking again, and basically anything that involves pumpkin means Fall to me! Pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin ale. And pumpkin pie, of course, but I'm not "allowed" to have any until Thanksgiving. Self-imposed rules like that may seem silly, but I think it's the limited availability of these foods that makes them special (and for the same reason, I don't start the Christmas season before Thankgiving--it's not special if it takes up half the year! Just say no to HalloThankMas!).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

¡¡¡que chévere!!!

Taking a brief respite from jumping up and down excitedly to share the Falling for Ewe Autumn Yarn Swap package I got today. It's absolutely fantastic:

I got some gorgeous snuggly soft Malabrigo (which, awesome, of course, but always makes me laugh; mal abrigo = bad coat), some beautiful Louisa Harding wool/silk blend, an adorable hat pattern that I've been meaning to knit, bamboo DPNs (or "yarn sticks," as J called them--yes, seriously) in a size I really needed and actually added to and removed from my KnitPicks cart several times that last time I ordered, some wonderful smelling soap, a chocolate bar (yum! and milk chocolate too! I'm not a big fan of dark chocolate, heart-healthy or no), a little pen and ink set, a lip balm, and some super cutie russian nesting doll stickers.

What a truly wonderful, thoughtful package. I absolutely love everything (I may or may not currently be eyeing up the chocolate bar . . . ), and want to send a big "thank you" to my spoiler. You rock ;)

[Dear readers, your Spanish word of the day: chévere. Usage varies throughout the Spanish-speaking countries, but it means something like "cool" or "awesome" or "nice.")

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

financial solvency? phooey!

I placed my first order at The Loopy Ewe! I solemnly swear, it was mostly for my Falling for Ewe spoilee--a Halloween colorway for the upcoming October package. Only two itty bitty, teeny tiny skeins of Louet for my Endpaper Mitts.

Someone please convince me to do a stash knit down. Thanks to winning a free All Raveled Up sock club a few months back, I now have far, far more sock yarn than someone who takes 2 months to knit a pair of socks really needs.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

in which i nearly have a stroke . . .

I was busy in the kitchen today, making some butternut squash soup in honor of Autumn officially starting tomorrow (and it was a lot more labor intensive than I thought; the squash had no interest in being chopped into cubes), and as I poured the final ingredients into the slow cooker, I glanced into the living room and saw this:

Yes, that would be Dory, snuggled up with my Grape Henley. Note the paw stretched out on the fabric. In fact, let's take a closer look:

I'm sure you can understand the panic this induced; I paced around the living room, whimpering and muttering to myself, pondering the best way to remove the cat. Because, as evidenced by her unsheathed claws, it's not as simple as just picking her up. Had I tried that, she would've dug in and held on for dear life. No, I had to figure out how to make her think that getting up off my precious, precious knitting was her choice. I opted for annoyance--not the kind that would make her jump up and dash off quickly, but a more subtle annoyance, which ultimately led her to sit up, reign those claws back in, and twitch her tail in a prissy fashion, making it easier for me to reach around and gently enclose her paws/claws in my hands, lift her up and place her on another, knitting-free section of the sofa. Success! Henley is safe and sound. For now, anyway.

I've been spending much of my knitting time in the last week knitting up a few little items to include in my Falling for Ewe spoilee's package, but I did managed to finish the garter rib for the body of the Tangled Yoke Cardigan:

So far, so good.

I also went ahead and ordered a second set of size 4 needle tips so I can keep working on both of these projects without constantly swapping out the tips. And Knit Picks had some Imagination in stock, finally, so . . . at least I managed to place a relatively small-sized order this time, rather than greedily popping $50 worth of yarn I didn't need into my cart to get the free shipping.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

sad but true

I wonder if there is some kind of award for wifery (wifeing? wifeness?), as I think I may be deserving of it, or at least a nom in the "awesome gifts" category. J will turn the big 3-0 on December 1, and I bought his gift this weekend—2 tickets to see Metallica at the Verizon Center (D.C.) in January. I was really surprised by the prices for the nosebleed seats, but, vaguely remembering hearing a lot of promos for the concert on the DC rock station, I dashed to their website and found a presale deal: same price, but much better seats. I'm also irate, as usual, that Ticketmaster's various fees tacked almost $40 onto the final price! Greedy bastards.

So now I have a bit of a dilemma. The tickets come with a free copy of Metallica's new CD, which I should get in the mail next week. So what do I do with it? If I wait until December to give it to J, he will have certainly downloaded the album by then, but if I just give it to him next week as a random gift, he will be suspicious (we aren't really a "random surprise gift" kind of couple). Hmmmm . . . I certainly don't want it. I don't think Metallica's had a good album since the so-called black album in 1991. I'm old school like that.

Oh, right, the knitting. That's why you're here. Well, I finally managed to cast on the Tangled Yoke and it hasn't been difficult so far, just slow. It's a lot of stitches, so I've only managed to complete about an inch and a half:

I've been focusing on Tangled Yoke, so not much to show for Henley; I've worked the back up to the point where I start the lace—which means no subway knitting now either, as it's difficult to knit in motion as it is without trying to decipher lace charts.

Just need to pick up a few odds and end and I'll be shipping the first package off to my Falling for Ewe spoilee. If I can manage to let the yarn go, that is . . .

Falling for Ewe Week #2

What ‘cold weather’ project are you looking forward to making the most this autumn?

For myself, I am really excited about the Tangled Yoke Cardigan, especially now that I've actually got it on the needles. I also need some fingerless mitts for my freezing office, so I want to tackle the gorgeous Endpaper Mitts. In the gift knitting department, I can't wait to do another sweater for J with this Beaverslide merino:


Thursday, September 11, 2008

all along the swatchtower

The good news: my Tangled Yoke swatch was much better behaved after a soak, though still not the right size, so I re-swatched on 4s and got gauge. Hurrah!

The bad news: I now need to try to knit both the Henley and Tangled Yoke on the single pair of size 4 needles I own. I rarely use straights any more, but even if I did, I don't have a pair. So I guess I'll be switching my size 4 needle tips back and forth between the 2 projects. Obviously I could buy a second pair of tips (or hey, even an entire second set of interchangeables!), but then I'd have to place another KnitPicks order, which is always dangerous. We'll see. Maybe if some of that much-desired Imagination becomes available (I love the note about how they were "overwhelmed" by the response. Really? Because knitters aren't notorious in their love for handpainted sock yarn. At all.).

I've also thunk up themes (alas, not particularly creative ones, but I'm pretty happy with them nonetheless) for my Falling for Ewe swap spoilee, and ordered yarn for 2 packages. I'm still debating about what yarn to pick up for the third. I desperately want to order something from The Loopy Ewe, just because I haven't before. I ordered one of the yarns from Jimmy Beans Wool, which was also a first for me, and I like them already--well, kinda. They sent me a coupon for free shipping on my next order. Enablers.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hanna and Henley

I'm happy to report that we survived a quite weak Tropical Storm Hanna none the worse for wear. We stayed inside most of the day Saturday and let me tell you, all of the extra reading and knitting I was forced to do to entertain myself was a tremendous suffering. The only real storm damage was perhaps to my garden, which is now something of a mucky mess due to poor drainage. Even though it's late in the season, I did plant a few fall crops, so I hope they're able to bounce back.

My Grape Henley still isn't much to look at, as I'm working on the back, but you can still check out the way the Silky Wool is knitting up:

I've knit a few more inches since taking this photo, and am soon to embark on a few sets of increases. So far, so good, except I already managed to forget to keep the 1st and last stitches in garter stitch. Sigh. If that's the biggest mistake I make I'll count myself lucky.

I knit up a gauge swatch for the Tangled Yoke Cardigan using Kathmandu DK, and alas, for the first time in a while, I didn't get gauge. 24sts and 36 rows should equal 4 inches, but my swatch is nearly 5". It is a slightly heavier yarn than the called for Rowant Felted Tweed, so I guess this isn't really a surprise. I can try moving down a needle size, but the fabric knit up quite stiff on the 5s and I'm concerned a smaller needle will make it worse. I've soaked my swatch and it's laid out to dry now, so hopefully when I revisit it tomorrow I will find a nice bath made the fabric a little more pliable.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Falling for Ewe Yarn Swap Question of the Week #1

What's your favorite thing about autumn?

Hmmmm, this is a tough one, as there's very little I don't like about autumn. Sweater weather, pumpkin-flavored everything, changing leaves, my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, fall wardrobe, baking, fires in the fireplace, the playoffs . . . see, so much to choose from! So I'll just pick one that stands out as particularly fun: carving pumpkins while watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and drinking warm apple cider--and then roasting the pumpkin seeds to snack on.

Yay autumn!

Friday, September 5, 2008

speed posting

I wanted to get a good post in for you all (surely you're desperate, refreshing your Google reader every 5 minutes, eager for my latest words of wisdom) before Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Media Hype Hanna comes rolling through and knocks out our power (I'm just assuming, since our power is constantly going off for absolutely no reason at all), but sadly, by the time I got home tonight, rain was already threatening and there wasn't enough light for photos of my Beaverslide yarn (which is so squishy and delicious) or the few inches I've knit of Henley Perfected. Hopefully I'll have enough daylight and electricity to post tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Henley Perfected is going along smoothly so far, but I'm already getting anxious about the lace part. I don't understand the increasing/decreasing in lace instructions. If you pair all your decreases with increases to keep your stitch count right, how are you actually decreasing? I can't quite wrap my head around it. But I found an intriguing suggestion on a Ravelry forum post today--instead of increasing and decreasing, try going up/down a needle size or two. I'm going to ponder this option for the bust increases--I'm making Henley for my sister, who's about as well-endowed as I am, and so doesn't require significantly more room in the chest area. Think it'll work?

I also have a new knitting obsession, and no, it's not more yarn. It's podcasts. I know I'm a little late to the boat on this one, but they're great to listen to at work while I pretend to be working (er, I mean, while I toil very diligently). I especially like Knitmore Girls, although I'm slightly weirded out by how similar the daughter's voice is to my own. I've only tried out a couple so far, but just added 3 more to my subscriptions. I'll try to do a more in depth review once I've thoroughly vetted them.

J just came up to tell me the Orioles are now losing 11-2; this is about the time of year I pray for the end of baseball season, because the Orioles start finding astounding ways to lose (and this time is no exception; walked in 3 runs, hit a batter, and gave up a grand slam), which drives me to drink. I wish I liked football more. Off to get some beer . . .

Monday, September 1, 2008

FO: Josephine (standard knitter's FO post)

Pattern: Josephine Top, Interweave Knits Summer 2007, size 36"
Yarn: Valley Yarns Longmeadow in Wisteria, 7+ skeins
Mods: zip, which in retrospect was a poor choice

I started this one almost 2 months ago, and finally finished it Saturday night--just in time to wear for the final summer holiday. This is not a quick knit, because there's just so much going on--no plain stockinette in sight (and I was traveling quite a bit this summer--this shirt has already been to the Bahamas, but I didn't waste much time there knitting!). There are no real tricky maneuvers, but it was a bit of a struggle at some points to keep things straight (ex: knitting the texture pattern, doing the neck decreases, and the armhole decreases all at the same time, with 2 balls of yarn attached).

The shirt is knit flat; had I put some thought into it, I might've knit in the round up to the armholes, but I always make the assumption that the designer has a particular reason for not knitting in the round. That's obviously not necessarily true.

My major complaint about Josephine is the final step--after seaming the whole shebang up, you pick up stitches around the bottom, knit 3 rows stockinette and bind off. I am completely incapable of binding off loosely. So the bottom hem is way too tight. Again, perhaps the author had a reason for doing it this way, but it seems like starting off with 3 rows of stockinette would've been a lot easier. Unfortunately you can see in both photos that the tight hem is causing the bottom to balloon out a bit, which isn't particularly flattering, and completely defeats the purpose of the stockinette, which was to have a rolled hem. I could rip out the bind off and try again, but I doubt I'd see much of an improvement, so I probably won't bother.

Only other problem is that it's too big--I knit the smallest size, got gauge, and blocked to the stated measurements, so there were no mistakes made, it's just that the smallest size isn't small enough. The ribbon around the chest makes it easy to tighten up in that area, but the sleeves are clearly too loose--they're supposed to be cap sleeves, and they're, sadly, not.

So, another summer top in the bag just in time for summer to be over. Now, what to knit next . . . ? I gathered all my courage yesterday and ripped back my Windowpane sock (yes, singular), so I'm ready to redo the gusset and try to get the colors lined up this time. I wound my skein of Manos del Uruguay silk blend, which I am thinking of turning into a hat. I was thinking this hat, but it doesn't seem like enough yarn. I need to get back on track with some Christmas knitting, so I may cast on for the Henley Perfected, but I'm also eager to get my Tangled Yoke Cardigan on the needles so I can be wearing it by, well, Christmas, at the rate I knit.

Happy Labor Day all!

Sunday, August 31, 2008


There are issues. Sigh. But I'm wearing her today anyway. Will do a complete FO post later.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

is yarn hoarding instinctive preparation for winter?

Someone take away my credit card. I was just innocently browsing KnitPicks and noticed that the sock DPN set I've been eyeing (6 sets of sock-sized DPNs--a must have, since I currently have only 2 sets, and they're always tied up in hibernating, half-finished socks) was on super sale--only $19.99! But it seemed silly not to purchase at least $50 worth of items to get the free shipping. So, yep, I bought even more yarn. Out. of. control.

Finished one sleeve on Josephine. Just need to do sleeve #2, neck trim and seam her up--hopefully all today!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

in the bag

Still playing the waiting game on more yarn here. I'm so anxious, even though I really have no plans for the yarn. How silly.

Here's how my market bag turned out:

Sorry, I know white on white--under electric light, no less--doesn't provide the best contrast.
I decided to brighten it up a bit with some red along the top. The top seemed a little flimsy though, so to make the handles sturdier I double stranded them. I didn't expect it to turn out quite so . . . peppermint-y. But there you have it. Ultimately the additional color/mottled effect on the straps isn't really my style, but hopefully my swap recipient will like it. I will finally get her package out tomorrow, so I can turn my full attention to the Falling for Ewe Autumn yarn swap. I got my swappee's name today--and oddly, I had a sneaking suspicion that she would be my assignment, I'm not sure why.

In other news, I had a bizarre day at work, due to a confusing half English, half Spanish conversation with our computer guy, who came over to my desk to tell me he was told to move my computer--"porque no estas portandote bien";"because you're not behaving yourself." I thought that was a joke, so I chuckled and said I preferred to stay put. But no--while completely unrelated to my behavior in any way, he said he was in fact told to move my machine. The hell? I trekked off to find my boss, who of c ourse wasn't in her office, and then spent an hour wondering on what planet it is ok to decide to move my desk without even telling me. She finally returned, and yes, it turns out I am moving--she had been in meetings all day, with no chance to talk to me, and actually didn't expect them to move on it so quickly, given the speed with which things usually get done. Apparently due to the high performing economy, some cuts are being made in the office, and my formerly-pregnant-co-worker-who's-moving-back-to-Spain's position isn't going to be filled, leaving her former desk unoccupied. So instead of sharing my cube with an intern, I'll now be sharing with one of my team members, which makes sense--I just didn't need to find out about it through the computer guy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

back to school shopping, knitter style

Thank you all for your kind reassurances regarding my depraved yarn buying downward spiral. Now for some show and tell. While I'm waiting patiently for my Beaverslide Dry Goods and destash Lime and Violet yarns, I'll show off my Chicago purchases:

Koigu Premium Merino (for some socks for J, albeit small ones, since I only bought 2 skeins; I guess we'll see if he likes anklets):

Some warm snuggly Ultra Alpaca Light, for what I don't know:

And my beloved Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend. Love love LOVE this:

I also got my latest installment from the All Raveled Up sock club, this gorgeous mix called Rainy Day:

Now, with all this yarn, I should probably try knitting something! Still plugging away at Josephine, hoping to have her done in time to wear for LABOR DAY (yes, summer top number 2, barely squeaking in before summer ends). Windowpanes still on hold. I finished up the bag, at least, and will have to snap a picture of the angel package before I ship it out (still on the lookout for a few trinkets to include). I decided to add a little color to the bag, and I'm undecided about how it looks. You can pass judgment on my next post.

Oh, and some photos from Chicago. Loved it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

somebody stop me!

I'm back from Chicago and I bought MORE yarn! I took a (somewhat lengthy) detour to Loopy Yarns and picked up some Ultra Alpaca, some Koigu and some Malabrigo. Pictures soon, I promise. This yarn purchasing must stop!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

gotta brand new bag

I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head, so of course, beginning the downward spiral with the yarn from Beaverslide Dry Goods, I promptly bought even more yarn—the problem with yarn purchases is their addictive quality. I start with one small purchase, and suddenly I’m snapping up every yarn I come across, most of them for no good reason and with no purpose in mind. I found someone destashing on Ravelry and picked up 2 skeins of Lime and Violet Sasquatch sock yarn. One is gorgeous green mix that will be for me, me, me; the other is a brightly colored mix I might pass on to a swap recipient.

I’ve been ignoring Josephine in favor of knitting up a few quick items for a swap—I volunteered to be a swap angel. Here’s a quick glimpse at the main item, a smaller version of the Fantasy Naturale Market Bag.

I’m trying to complete it with just one skein of Sugar and Cream, so I’ve downsized it a bit. It’s knitting up very quickly, so hopefully I can finish up and get the package in the mail Monday.

One of these reasons I hestitate to host a swap is that I don’t think I could deal with the flakes nearly as well as most hostesses seem to. We’re all (presumably) responsible adults; and as such, if we find ourselves unable to fulfill our commitments, shouldn’t we do the responsible, courteous thing and just say so? Instead, time and again we hear stories of swappers who suddenly up and disappear, refuse to answer emails, PMs, etc., and leave their swappees in the lurch, without so much as an apology. I can’t stand it. We all know life happens—things come up, or money disappears and we can’t follow through. No one will demonize you for that. But we will certainly call you out for being rude and thoughtless if you can’t take the 2 seconds necessary to send your swap organizer an explanation.

We’re off to Chicago for a long weekend. If anyone has a yarn store or anything else to recommend, leave a comment!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

in which i've accomplished nothing . . .

Things I am not blogging about but should be: a finished Josephine.

Yep, that's right, still not done. My very good reason/lame excuse for this delay is that I forgot to bring the back with me to the beach, and since it's fairly important that the back and front match up, I couldn't get very far without it. I just passed the split for the neck:

You can see I've now reached a point where I have to have two balls of yarn attached, which is annoying and tangle-y, and very not portable (Could I simply have started knitting from the opposite end of the same ball of yarn? Maybe, but I'm not that bright).

I actually returned from the beach on Wednesday, but made a very misguided promise to my sister that I would watch her new dog while she's at the beach. Moby and I have been inseparable since Wednesday night--not voluntarily, mind you--which hasn't left much time for knitting. You can read all about my dog adventure here.

But, I do want to show off some of the pretty, pretty pictures my new camera has produced, so let's venture once again into the world of gardening!

Here's yesterday's harvest:

That's 3 tomatoes (I picked a 4th the previous day), 4 jalapeño peppers, 2 tomatillos, and a big bunch of basil, my third of the year. Sadly, we came home to find one tomato had already fallen off the vine and was bug eaten, but I've got at least 12 more out there, a few that are ripening, and some still green (I'm ready for fried green tomatoes!). I have at least 4 more peppers coming, and about a zillion tomatillos (although, I swear I just saw a squirrel hop off with one; hopefully my eyes are playing tricks on me). I'll chop these peppers and tomatillos up and put them in some guacamole, I think. I used the basil to make this delicious Lemony Zuccihini and Basil Quinoa Pilaf (sans chicken), and here are 2 tomatoes I sliced up for (veggie) burgers:

There's something so satisfying about growing your own food. Once we move to a bigger house, I hope to have room to grow zucchini, as well as sugar snap peas, which I love. Too bad you can't grow your own yarn, but I think alpaca farming is just a bit beyond my reach.

Ah, I also managed to be swindled into ordering some yarn by brooklyn tweed's latest post, in which he mentions yet again the wonder that is Beaverslide Dry Goods. I ordered 2 different shades of the worsted weight, one for possibly the Wheat Ear Cable Yoke sweater, and another for a boy sweater, maybe Beau. Can't wait to try it out!