Thursday, May 29, 2008

book it

The time has come, the knitter said, to talk of many things—of shoes, and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings. Or not. But the time has come to wind this little contest down. Tomorrow is the last day to enter, so if you haven’t done it yet, be sure to read this post and add your comment. I’ll announce the winners here on June 2 and ship out all these goodies next week.

Now that the baby items are done (and joyfully received, I'm happy to say), I’m back to working intermittently on Lotus Blossom and Pomatomus. LBT is giving me quite a fit—I bought an extra ball of yarn and I’m still worried it won’t be enough. It seems like a small enough shirt, but it’s wolfing down yarn like there’s no tomorrow. So we’ll see—if I have to order another ball, it’ll be another extended hiatus.
Pomatomus is not particularly stressful, just slow going always checking the chart, losing my place, doing the YOs before purl stitches wrong and having to un-knit and fix them. But the first sock is almost done! Then I might have a self-imposed bout of second sock syndrome, as I need to do some Christmas gift socks and the Windowpane Socks that for some reason I think I can knit successfully, and I've yet to do anything about the fact that I only have one set of sock DPNs.
I’m also working on a few kitchen-y items for the Knit It Forward swap.

I’ve commented a few times about my ever-growing Rav queue and how I can’t possibly hope to knit everything on it before I die. Well, the obvious answer to that is to buy even MORE knitting books, so that’s just what I did. I got Favorite Socks, which I love (and absolutely don’t need, given how many free sock patterns are available, not to mention the snail's pace at which I knit socks), and another which, sadly, I don’t love: Norah Gaughan’s Knitting Nature. I really should’ve read up a bit on it before forking over my hard earned cash, but you know what they say, hindsight is 20/20. There’s really nothing wrong with the book, it’s just not my style—the knitting nature concept (ie, knitting objects based on shapes found in nature—hexagons, spirals, and so on) is a bit too, well, out there for me, as perhaps all “concept” books are—it’s great for the designer to have inspiration, but I just want my patterns to be, well, pretty. And wearable. So now, what to do with this book, which has a grand total of 2 patterns I might knit? Maybe I’ll hold on to it until I’m ready to run another contest . . . (although if anyone is desperate to have it right this very second, send me a message!)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

it's a memorial day miracle!

First, just a random knitting-related photo:

Mrs. Stitch Goes to Washington

Here's how I spent lunch on Friday. A friend and I usually eat lunch outside together in this spot when it's warm, but she had meetings, so since I was dining solo, I decided I should knit as well. It was a lovely plan, until a couple with kids decided that the rest of the DC metro area was insufficient for their needs, and parked themselves 10 feet from me in order to change a diaper. Honestly, I attract people; a few weeks ago a random guy decided he needed to do yoga 5 feet from me. It's a big park, people, not to mention a big city--be weird elsewhere!!!

Ok, now on to the real knitting. And here we go with the miracle: Malenita's gifts are done! And it's a good thing too, because Susi's last day in the office is Tuesday.

February Baby Sweater:

Saartje's Bootees:

Personalized Baby Blanket:

Sweater and bootees are done in Knit Picks Swish DK in Petal and used less than 3 skeins total; blanket is Knit Picks Main Line in Antique Rose. Only mods were shortening the blanket because I didn't buy enough yarn (only 7 skeins), and it still came out a good size despite dropping about 50 rows.

I have 2 skeins of the Swish left, so I'm entertaining the idea of knitting this baby sweater and giving it to anyone I know who has a baby girl.

Now, some good news about work, for a change. Originally Susi was planning to come back after her maternity leave, but it turns out her husband was offered a great job back in Spain, so she's actually going to move back home instead. And it seems my boss has, as I hoped, decided that I can start taking over some of Susi's work. It's somewhat hard to explain what kind of work I'll be doing without going into a long, drawn out story about how our team works, but basically each person on the team is responsible for working with a particular set of countries, and I'll be taking over 2 of Susi's countries to get my feet wet. And my boss has asked me to go with the team to Peru in September! (I've already been to Peru, so that part isn't novel, but being asked to participate in a meeting abroad is significant--sadly I will not be going to our meetings in the Bahamas and Panama in July, though :( ) So, things are looking up at work, although if gas gets much more expensive, I don't think I'll be able to afford a job . . .

Hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

color me unsure . . .

The lovely and awesome Sheryl sent me an invite to the Ravelry Windowpane Socks sock-along. Sadly, since making all my nifty resolutions earlier this year, I have made absolutely zero progress in developing any real colorwork skills whatsoever. Should I take the plunge anyway? I should probably start with something a little simpler, but on the other hand, why not jump in with both feet? Hmmm. . . . decisions, decisions . . .

Monday, May 19, 2008

just another manic monday . . .

Yippie, my first sock club yarn has arrived!!! Squuuuueeeeaaaal!

Photo shamelessly stolen from ikisti on Ravelry because my camera is MIA. Thanks!
Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s so soft and squishy too. As soon as I finish about a billion other projects, this will be on the needles. It’s called “Mascot,” inspired by Ravelry’s dear Bob, and, I assume, the pink Rav logo (unless Bob has some pink spots unnatural to Boston Terriers). Luuuuurv it.

Actual knitting—not going that well. I feel like I’ve learned so much since I started knitting, but I’m still so slow. It’s incredibly frustrating to knit for 20 minutes and only get through 4 rows—purl rows are especially slow going, but unfortunately not everything can be knit in the round (unless you're one of those brave souls willing to cut up your knitting--I am decidedly not). I didn’t finish anything this weekend, although I did manage to buy buttons for the sweater and bootees, so I guess that’s something. I brought my knitting to the baseball game Saturday night (GO Os! Beat the Expos—er, I mean, Nationals!), but couldn’t quite work up the nerve to knit through the game—people already stare at me for mouthing off to the opposing team fans, I don’t necessarily need to attract more attention. And the game ultimately got really exciting (read: nervewracking), so I doubt I would’ve accomplished much anyway. I'll save baseball game knitting for Stitch N Pitch.

Math also apparently isn’t my strong suit. I somehow managed to vastly underestimate the amount of yarn I needed for the personalized baby blanket. And every day that passes, the chance increases that Susana will pop out her baby and move back to Spain, so I don’t really have time to order more yarn from KnitPicks. So I’m cutting about 50 rows out of the blanket. I’m annoyed, but it’s really the only option available to me—the blanket will still wind up more than large enough to accommodate a newborn, but will probably be more like a handkerchief once she’s a toddler. Sigh.

I got the ball of Valley Yarns Southwick so I can finish LBT. Of course, I had no intention of paying WEBS $6 to ship me one ball of yarn, but since I’m now spending half my paycheck on gas (ok, not really, but it sure feels like it), I didn’t want to go overboard buying tons of yarn that won't be used for months. So I opted for eight skeins of Classic Elite Four Seasons in very berry (70% cotton, 30% wool, worsted). Any ideas what I should do with it? I’m thinking maybe a short- or three-quarter-length sleeved cardigan . . . I have my eye on Something Red, but, well, I’m cheap, so I’d prefer to knit from a pattern I already own.

And a side note: for the knitters who love to read, and perhaps are bored at work (::waves::), I came across this site where you can read books online—some are even available in PDF, so you can download them to your computer. I’m currently trying to look busy by reading Sense and Sensibility.

Friday, May 16, 2008


You know how some people have “FO Fridays”? I will never be one of those people. Instead, I present to you "Frustrated Fridays," in which I will complain about all of my unfinished objects, all of which, through absolutely no fault of my own, have been hindered by dilemmas and distractions.

First, the boring one. Here’s little Malena’s (in Spanish, that’s pronounced “mah-LAY-nah”) personalized baby blanket. As you can see, there is absolutely nothing here to get excited about. It’s a very very plain blanket, stockinette with a garter stitch border. As far as I can tell from the pattern, at some time in the (hopefully near) future, I will reach the point where I can add her initial in the center (hence the “personalized” in the title). But as the days pass by, hope of ever reaching that point grows dimmer. All this stockinette is booooring, so it’s slow going.

And here’s the more adventurous project: Elizabeth Zimmerman’s February baby sweater. Have you looked up the definition of “pithy”? As much as she emphasizes the “pithy-ness” of her directions, I honestly don’t think her instructions quite fit the bill. Pithy means succinct—you summarize all the important points concisely, with no “fluff.” I find Ms. Z (who, I know, is the patron saint of knitting, hallowed be her name, etc., but it must be said) more vague than pithy. Her instructions are certainly brief—unnecessarily brief, to the point of ambiguity. The instructions are disorganized at times (ex: she doesn’t tell you to put in button holes until about 4” into the body—oops!), and essential details and explanations are missing, as is some sort of decoder ring to interpret what exactly she’s trying to say (ex: “Place remaining 92 stitches on needle, knitting up 4 x 7 sts at the cast-on sleeve sts.” Sure.). Which equals vague (at least to someone who’s only been knitting for 1.5, rather than 15, years).

But fortunately, Ravelry comes to the rescue again; after scouring numerous posts, I managed to get a tenuous handle on how exactly to carve out the sleeves, and as you can see, have in fact completed one! It was no easy task though. For the first sleeve I missed a YO somewhere and had to rip back, which I detest. Then I had to sit and stare at the sleeve and body for a while, trying to figure out how to go about picking up the stitches under the arm so it would actually be attached to the body of the sweater, rather than flapping around like a wing. And on the second sleeve, for whatever reason, I originally only worked half the correct number of stitches, so I had to start that sleeve over once (so far). Working out the mystery of the sleeves is the hardest part, though, so hopefully smooth sailing from here on out.

And I’ve been taking copious notes so I can craft something of a “real” pattern for this sweater when I’m done—it is an adorable sweater and I expect to knit it again and again as my friends start popping out babies, but I’d like to skip the sleuthing and translating in the future.

Don’t even ask about Pomatomous. They're . . . there (actually, "they" isn't really the correct pronoun, since I haven't finished knitting the first sock yet). And LBT is awaiting yarn, but I ordered it this week, so she’ll be back on the needles this weekend, hopefully.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

rollin rollin rollin

Look at these contest entries just rolling in! My evil plan to lure unsuspecting knitters to my blog has worked! Bwah ha ha ha! Everyone has such great things planned for summer knitting, I'm slowly searching all these patterns out on Ravelry and adding them to the never-ending queue.
Someone asked about my favorite summer knit. Sadly, I don't have much to contribute in that regard. Last summer was my first summer knitting, and I spent most of it struggling with the ASS--the All Season Shell, that is, from Lion Brand. Never was a worse pattern written. (Well, that's probably not true . . . I'm sure if I ever tried to write a pattern, I'd put something far worse together. But I am not commercial yarn manufacturer, so I have no standards to live up to.) Needless to say, that was not one of my favorites.
This summer, I'm hoping to finish the Lotus Blossom Tank, and knit (among other things, I'm sure) the Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell, Josephine Top, and maybe a Dream Swatch, I think it would be cute with my new hair (and here's what I remember disliking about bangs--they already need a trim! Do I really have to go pay someone $30 to snip the ends off a few inches of hair? What a waste. I'm considering trying to do it myself. I'll be sure to post pictures of that disaster.).
Lately, it seems, I haven't finished knitting much of anything. LBT is on hold because I need more yarn. I've started neither my April nor May Christmas projects. And I've started 3 baby items for Susana, only one of which is kind of finished:
Here are my Saartje's Bootees (perched atop your prize books!), sans buttons. And they really need the buttons for the full effect, I think. I'm sure you are supposed to crochet the button loops, but I can't crochet to save my life, so I just kinda wound the yarn around itself a few times and left it at that. I think they're adorable, but I don't really like the idea of a bootie with a seam along the sole. Obviously a baby won't be walking in them, but it still seems like it would be uncomfortable. You can't ask the baby, though, so I guess we'll never know.
I also have a February Baby Sweater and a Personalized Baby Blanket on the needles. So far no problems with either, but I haven't reached the sleeves on the sweater yet, which I expect will be the tricky part. Damn that pithy Elizabeth Zimmerman and her pithy directions. I learned to knit from a book called Knitting for Dummies, I really need my hand held through these difficult patterns!
I hope everyone has recovered from Sheep + Wool last week! Here is my sad tale of woe:
Sometimes the most obvious things don’t occur to me. Like, for example, that some people think lamb = food. Reading through the Ravelry “MDS+W: Day 1” thread, with talk of pit lamb, lamb sandwiches, etc., was enough to put me off this festival until the end of my days. I realize that perhaps it’s “cheating” a bit to accept wool as a legitimate use for sheep but to oppose their use for food (and trust me, this is an issue I grapple with frequently; how humane is wool production? I’m probably better off not knowing.), but the very idea of eating a baby anything makes me want to vomit. So I think I'll be skipping this particular festival (Obviously I can't and don't avoid all social events where meat will be consumed, but I can't quite reconcile myself to participating in an event that in essence celebrates that consumption.); it's not as if I need more excuses to buy yarn anyway.

Monday, May 5, 2008

a win-win situation

I can hardly believe it myself, but it has been nearly a year since I started rambling about knitting on this very page. Much to my delight, I have given up neither knitting nor blogging, which I think is an accomplishment to be recognized (the same can’t be said, for example, of my short-lived dive into scrapbooking—which, I swear, I’m going to get into again some day!). And with my recent sock club contest win, I’m feeling quite loved by the knitting community and I want to share the love. So, I’m having a little contest of my own!

I have not 1, not 2, but 3 knitting books to give away to the dear readers who, for whatever reason, have taken an interest in my life and this hobby. Those three books are:

Bag Style

Knitter's Bible: Knitted Accessories

Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Sock Book

But wait, there’s more! Act now and you’ll also have a chance to win 5 skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL in Slate Gray (which I will freely admit is leftover from Mrs. Darcy, but free yarn is free yarn, right?)! Here's a really terrible picture of the yarn, because I need a new camera:

So, that’s 4 prizes for 4 lucky readers. And that’s about how many readers I have, so it works out well.

Most knitting bloggers are pretty generous and allow you to enter a contest just by leaving a comment. But I am not. I’m going to make you work for your contest entry. Bwah ha ha ha!

Don’t worry, it’s nothing too taxing; but in the spirit of summer (warm weather, trips to the beach, fresh fruits and veggies, baseball, cancer-inducing suntans—I love summer!), I’m going to ask you to leave a comment telling me your favorite summer-y knitting pattern, so we’re all inspired to do some warm weather knitting (links, ravelry or otherwise, are appreciated!)). Leave your comments/links by May 30, por favor. I’ll draw random winners and announce them here on my official blogiversary, June 2. So that gives you a couple weeks to get excited about entering, forget to enter, remember to enter again, decide on your favorite pattern, comment, and then wonder if I’m ever going to post the winners.

And please spread the word—that might sound like I’m being generous, but I really just want more people to waste time reading my blog.

(If you don’t want your name in the running for all 4 prizes—ex, you already have a copy of The Ultimate Sock Book and you don’t need another--please let me know which ones you are interested in.)

Next time on a very special Blossom--er, blog: maybe I actually finished knitting something (ha!) and why I opted out of S+W.

Friday, May 2, 2008

patting myself on the back!

Remember a couple months ago when I mentioned the All Raveled Up Sock Club Contest being held by Blue Hands Fibers? Probably not. But I did mention that I had entered the contest, and I'm so excited to tell you that I won! Hurrah! An All Raveled Up Sock Club just for me! It has been a looooooong week at work (worked last the last 3 nights, and my brain hurts from trying to translate money laundering legal speak into English), so this was a greatly needed surprise. You can read my winning essay on the Blue Hands Fibers blog, if you're inclined to subject yourself to more of my overwrought prose, and visit the Etsy shop to see some of the gorgeous yarn!

More kinda good news: this weekend is MD Sheep and Wool! But alas (as I actually mention in my essay), I don't have any real life knitting buddies because my job + commute doesn't afford me much time for knitting meet ups. So I have no one to go to S+W with. :( Should I drag the husband? Or go it alone? Sigh.