Sunday, June 29, 2008

of baseball and lace

I crossed another item off my list of 101 yesterday—I went to an O's game at the opposing team's ballpark, and lived to tell the tale. This turned out to be a pretty easy one to accomplish, now that DC has a team, a new, Metro-accessible stadium, and a few non-rabid fans who didn't seem all that riled by the Orioles invasion. O's fans made a nice showing last night, filling at least half the stadium and resulting in the highest attendance since the stadium opened (which, granted, was just earlier this year, but Camden Yards sold out every game for months after it opened; Nats' stadium hadn't managed a sell out since opening day, which is a pretty pitiful showing for a brand spanking new ballpark). We did have a close run-in with a rather ferocious thunderstorm—we were told to take cover, but that's the thing about open air stadiums: not so much "cover." But we all lived to see the 9-1 Orioles victory.

It was pretty fun being the "obnoxious" out of town fan. And despite the rage I feel for Sux and Yanks fans that invade MY ballpark I don't really feel too badly about it, for a number of reasons. 1. D.C. has no business even having a baseball team—the Expos should've been moved to an area without a team, not to city primarily populated by transplants (who is actually from Washington, D.C.?) with a team an hour north. Also, they used to be the EXPOS, for crying out loud. 2. I'm pretty sure most of those Nats fans were once Orioles fans, who got lazy when a new team came to town (and probably rightly frustrated with the O's performance for the last 10 years) and opted to support the closer team. D.C. was O's territory long before it was Nats territory. 3. We weren't really obnoxious; we cheered loudly for our team, but we weren't talking smack or booing when the Nats succeeded—although since they managed only 1 run, there wasn't much to boo about. 4. In addition, I’m not a confused tourist just in town for the day; I suffer the atrocious commute into D.C. every day, so I think I've earned the right to be there on the weekends too. And 5. The Orioles are actually good this year—still in 4th place because our division is so tough, but above .500—and I need to enjoy it while it lasts. They've won all 4 games I've been to this year!

Now, on to the knitting. Here she is, all fixed up, Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell:

Pattern: Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell, Interweave Knits, Summer 2007
Size: 32"
Yarn: Cascade Pima Silk, 3.5 skeins
Needles: size 8, trusty Knit Picks Options
Mods: Zero

Loved this pattern, so simple, super quick knit, almost impossible to mess it up . . . unless, you know, you seam the wrong shoulders together. But only an idiot would do that. The pattern includes short rows, but I found them quite easy this time around, and they left no holes.

The Pima Silk is beautiful, too, the silk has a slight shimmer and it gives the color some depth. The yarn was soft, and not splitty at all.

I can't vouch for the fit, as this is going to Mom for her birthday, but once she has it, I'll try to get her to pose for some pictures.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

scraps - LBT

Here we are, the long awaited LBT follow up, featuring marvelous Japanese short rows. Thanks to all for your nice comments about the top, I'm really happy with the way it turned out (it fits! hurrah!) and now I just need a special occasion to show it off.

Japanese short rows were a new technique for me, and I much preferred this method to the traditional "wrap and turn" method, although the stitches on one side did turn out a little wonky, due to knitter error, I'm sure (and, though I'll go into this in more detail in my next post, I used the traditional short row method on the Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell, and it turned out much better than my first attempt, no holes).

Here's how the short rows look on the "bad" side (note the 2 wonky stitches):

And the good side (nearly flawless):

If you haven't tried this method, I definitely recommend--you just need a few small safety pins. I noticed several Ravelry posts expressing confusion over the instructions, which state to put the pin on the yarn, not through it. Don't over think it--it just means you close the pin around the strand of yarn; you don't insert the pin into the yarn itself. By closing the pin around the yarn, you mark the small length of yarn you need to pick up later and you create a little "handle" to lift it up with so you can place it on the needle; this won't work if you stick the pin through the yarn.

I also wanted to clarify the mods I made to the tank, since I was so overly-excited to have finished it that I wasn't particularly articulate about the whole process. I cannot take any credit for these mods, I copied LicketyKnit's changes almost to the letter. Working on the smallest size, I added 1 lace pattern repeat (since I'm a little old for crop tops), added a few increase and decreases to create some waist shaping, added 1 inch to the length of the stockinette portion so that the waist would fall under the bustline and not in the middle of it (why it was written so the waistline falls across your boobs, I have no idea--that's not attractive on anyone), and decreased the length of the armholes. Of course, I also added an unintentional mod by finishing the armholes incorrectly, but that doesn't really count, and I don't recommend it.

I fixed up Lutea and she's blocking, so my next post will be another FO! Also, the Windowpane Sock-along starts July 1 (so I'd really better wind the yarn!), so if you've been considering these socks, come join us! I've got, let's see, 2 days to learn two-handed fair isle. Should be a resounding success!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

match made in heaven? or hell.

So, I thought that today I would be posting another FO for you. (I know, 2 FOs in a week? Crazy talk.) As I sat watching the abysmal performance of the Orioles starting pitching last night (and the incredible 2 homeruns from Jay Payton—who would’ve guessed?), I was busily knitting the shoulders for the Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell. I finished them up and with about an hour to go before bedtime decided I would seam them as well—virtually painless, as seaming is done with the brilliant three needle bind off (if only everything could be seamed this way!). So I got to work, pausing only to polish off my favorite summer treat, an ice cream sandwich (I also enjoy a summery mojito, but we’re out of white rum, and my mint seems to have contracted the plague and is rapidly wilting). Seaming was done within 20 minutes, and I held up my finished shell for all the world (well, OK, husband and the cats) to see—Ta Da! Oh wait, that doesn’t look right. Those increases and decreases were done on the side, why are they now running down the front and back of the shell? I know it’s a V neck, but why is the V so deep? My mom’s not seeking employment at Hooters. How could this possibly have turned into such a disaster??? Unless . . .

Yes, folks, I mistmatched the shoulders. Instead of joining the left front shoulder to the left back shoulder, I joined the left front shoulder to the right front shoulder. And so on. I couldn’t bear to take pictures of such a travesty, so you’ll just have to imagine the horror. After pouting for more than a few minutes, I ripped out the seam on one shoulder and put both sides back on needles. So tonight I’ll rip out the other and try again. Sigh.

Other knitting seems to be on hold. The Josephine Top has been swatched (got gauge!) and I’m ready to cast on, but I want to finish Lutea first. The Hedgerow socks have been on hold, sort of—the more I look at the leg, the more I think it won’t be big enough for Josh (why does everyone else have creative blog nicknames for their husbands? Boo.), so I may start over yet again. I’m also not loving the Knit Picks Essential that I’m using. I made the Lightbulb Socks with Essential Tweed, and loved it, but for some reason it now seems a little too fuzzy and cheap-looking.

I’m well over my yarn budget for the next, you know, decade, but WEBS has a closeout on Queensland Kathmandu DK, which I think would be perfect for the Tangled Yoke Cardigan. To buy or not to buy? I certainly can’t afford Rowan Felted Tweed at $10/skein; the Kathmandu closeout at $4.29 gives me a $42ish sweater, as opposed to an $80 one.

(I know I promised photos of my LBT shortrows, so I’m going to do a LTB follow-up post [kinda like those TV star “where are they now?” shows] soon—don’t let me forget!)

Monday, June 23, 2008

cue hallelujah chorus from handel's messiah

Yes, it's true, I finished knitting something!

I checked my Ravelry projects the other day and it turns out I started this thing in April! That's utterly ridiculous. I blame everyone but myself. I diligently swatched and got gauge with Valley Yarns Southwick, and LBT ended up devouring 1.5 more balls of yarn than it should have. Unless some other creature was sneaking up in the night to chomp on my yarn, which seems unlikely, then either this pattern grossly underestimated its yarn needs, or the yardage for Southwick is incorrect. I see no other options--knitter incompetence highly improbable. So I had not 1 but 2 hiatuses (hiatusi? sounds like some kind of massage), waiting for additional yarn to arrive from WEBS.

All things considered, this pattern was pretty easy. The lace pattern, unfortunately, was a bit too complicated to memorize, but was easy to keep track of nonetheless. I added some shaping on the top a la LicketyKnit, and also added some length to the top while decreasing the length of the armholes. My only complaint is the final finishing along the neckline, which is bizarre; as written, you pick up stitches along the 2 sides and back--but not the front!--and knit a few rows before binding off. So now you've got a few rows of fabric jutting off the neck, completely disconnected from the front of the neckline. Attaching the neck trim to the front was easy enough, but they never actually instruct you to do so, which seems odd and unfinished.

Among the knitting tasks I dislike most is picking up stitches. For the armholes, the pattern says to pick up stitches with the right side facing, so of course I promptly did it the opposite way, and didn't realize until I finished knitting and bound off. Oops. Looking at the projects on Ravelry for LBT, I think I would prefer it the "correct" way, but it's not worth ripping out. And for what it's worth, I did manage to get a clue and do it correctly around the neck.

I'm happy with the look of the Southwick yarn, but am concerned about stretch--I fear the weight of the bottom will pull the whole thing down as I wear it, potentially exposing my undergarments and (non-existent) cleavage. I guess we'll see. The yarn was a bit splitty to work with, but soft.

I've also been busily slaving away on some kitchen-themed items for the Knit It Forward swap. These will be off in the mail tomorrow to my swap buddy.

When I ordered the last ball of Southwick from WEBS, I also ordered some yarn for my second summer top--the Josephine Top. I did not necessarily intend to use Valley Yarns again, but it was the only cotton blend they had in the right weight--for a reasonable price. So I've got 8 balls of Longmeadow in colorway Wisteria, which was so cheap they were practically giving it away. I'm just swatching now, but hope to actually finish this before the summer's over. Dare to dream.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

best. meme. ever.

Today I was going to tell you a story about feeding a squirrel a pretzel (and no, it wasn't really any more exciting than it sounds, unfortunately--squirrels in Our Nation's Capital! My life is just one adventure after the next.), but then I stumbled across this meme on knittymuggins' blog. I don't think it's an exaggeration to call it the best meme ever--it's certainly the most labor-intensive meme ever--so my squirrel-related escapades will just have to wait.

Now, without further ado, the meme!

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.
d. Save your mosaic, and post in on your blog for all the world to see.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

Now I think I might have to leave my own blog up all day to stare at that photo of my celebrity boyfriend. Yum. :)

Photo credits: 1. Wash'>">Wash Up, 2. Patacones, 3. NOTRE'>">NOTRE DAME PREP SCHOOL, 4. RAPANUI'>">RAPANUI + silver sunset, 5. Brian'>">Brian Roberts, 6. Mojito'>">Mojito Power, 7. Cuba'>">Cuba, the Paradise, 8. pie'>">pie and ice cream!!!.jpg, 9. Miss'>">Miss Do-Gooder, 10. Cat'>">Cat Family, 11. Opinionated, 12. La'>">La Paz waterfalls

Monday, June 16, 2008

turning Japanese

I hope everyone had a lovely Father's Day and WWKIP day. Sadly I did no knitting in public on Saturday because my plans to go to the baseball game were ruined by US Airways, who couldn't bother to get my husband home from Charlotte Friday night, forcing him and his coworkers to rent a car and drive home, which in turn left me with a very cranky, sleepy Josh on Saturday, unfit for public viewing. Sigh. I detest the airline industry, and I have to fly at least 3 more times this year. Just thinking about it is making me grumpy. They probably should outlaw knitting needles on planes, because I'm not above stabbing some incompetent ass in the eye (although the incompetent ones are rarely on the plane; they're usually on the ground somewhere making poor decisions and stranding passengers while laughing maniacally).

Contributing to my general grumpiness: the prophecy has been fulfilled; I have run out of yarn for LBT! I've still got one shoulder and the neckline to do, requiring at most half a ball of yarn. So, do I order yet again from WEBS (which will require me to buy even MORE yarn because I can't justify paying them to ship just one ball)? Stalk people on Ravelry with my yarn in their stash and beg them to sell it to me? The worst part is, I think the tank is going to turn out really well, so I'm in a big hurry to be wearing it; it's not particularly flattering on the sofa where it is currently resting. Honestly, I can't believe how much trouble this project is causing me, given how relatively easy the actual knitting has been!

I learned a new technique with this project, Japanese short rows (hence the post title; remember that old song? Oops, showing my age . . .). They turned out absolutely perfectly invisible on one side, but sadly did not work out as well on the other, where I have 2 odd-looking bumps (I will take pictures, if the tank is ever done!). I think the "good" ones are where I was short row-ing on the knit side, and the "bad," on the purl side. Not worth frogging for, but annoying nonetheless. Still, although I have limited experience, at this point I prefer this method to traditional short rows--I always wind up with little holes working the traditional way. If you're going to give it a shot, I suggest buying some tiny safety pins or removable markers; I had to scrounge around my house for pins and came up with some quite large ones that were more in the way than anything.

Monday, June 9, 2008

i'm melting! meeeeeeelting . . .

It is hot today, folks. H-O-T hot. Coupled with the mid-Atlantic specialty—that’s humidity—it feels about 100 degrees (according to We generally get a couple of these oppressive heat waves in August, but June is a little early. I certainly hope this is not indicative of things to come. I fear it will be a very unproductive summer, as the heat seems to have melted my brain. Even my computer is operating a bit sluggishly. And to top it all off, husband is at a conference in San Francisco all week—today’s high there is 73. He’d better bring me some good souvenirs. What’s San Francisco famous for? I want to start calling it San Pancho—because Pancho is a common nickname for Francisco. See, this is the kind of brilliance you get from me during a heat wave!

Ok, you’re probably here to read about knitting, so I, in turn, should probably come up with something knitting related to talk about.
I cast on for 2 new projects: Hedgerow Socks and Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell. I had knit nearly 3 inches of the first sock leg before I decided I hadn’t cast on loosely enough (they’re for hubby), so I frogged and restarted, casting on over 2 needles, which seems to be an improvement. I’ve already done a good 2 inches—the stitch patten is easy to both memorize and do, so this is one pair of socks that shouldn’t take the better part of a year to complete. I’ve barely made any progress on the Shell, though—it is located on the oft-neglected main floor of my home, while the socks are parked in front of the TV where I watch baseball, so they get a lot more attention.

Lotus Blossom—looking good, but still not done. I had originally hoped to have it done by Father’s Day, but that looks unlikely, especially if I run out of yarn. I'm doing a very poor job of knitting myself 3 summer tops. :(

All the prizes have been mailed out—except I simply cannot track down one winner! No Rav name, no blogger profile, no email . . . it’s like she’s fallen off the face of the earth. Miss T, whomever and wherever you are, please send me an email or message on Ravelry so I can get your prize out to you! I’ll give it ‘til June 15, and then I’ll pick a different winner . . .

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Check out this beauteous stuff:

Sock yarn #2 from the All Raveled Up sock club. Do I have even a clue what I’m going to do with it? Of course not. But it’s pretty!

Now, I’m currently doing a swap, and I’ve got the Windowpane Socks KAL coming up next month. And I’m months behond on Christmas/birthday knitting. So I clearly have quite enough on my plate (spilling over the sides of my plate onto the floor in puddles of yarn, more like). But I was just reading on Ravelry about the Knitting Olympics, and I feel the uncontrollable urge to sign up for that as well. I’m not sure why, there’s really no “point” to it—it’s just a personal challenge to knit some specified object in a very short period of time (that happens to encompass my vacation, I believe, but knitting at the beach doesn’t seem like the best idea—sandy yarn). Anyone else thinking about becoming an Olympian?

And oh my gosh, I’ve been tagged for a meme! I feel so popular! And I mean that sincerely (I know people might be confused, as the tone of many of my posts is often quite sarcastic). Yay! Thanks knittymuggins!

The rules of the game: each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? In general I had just finished high school and was getting ready to move away for college. To almost the day, I was driving to the beach with my friends for senior week. It’s hard for me to believe this all took place 10 years ago, it seems like yesterday. I count myself among the lucky though, I had a great group of friends in high school (which was all girls Catholic school, for those who will now form an opinion of me based solely on that ;)), and we’re mostly still friends today (we had happy hour last night!).

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?

Pack up everyone’s prizes to mail

Cast on for Josh’s Christmas socks

Remember to photocopy my insurance card so I can bring it in to work as proof of insurance so they don’t start charging me for insurance here

Watch the Orioles WIN

Pick a date for our summer barbecue, or at least a few candidates

3. Snacks I enjoy: hmmmm, I like almost anything as a snack, depending on my mood. In the summer, definitely ice cream sandwiches.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: first, pay off our student loans, our house, our parents’ houses. Buy ourselves a new home on the water in Annapolis and a beach house somewhere too. Travel the world. Invest wisely and then be bums. Maybe I would have my own yarn store!

5. Places I have lived: various neighborhoods in Baltimore, MD (Brooklyn Park, Parkville), Lewisburg, PA, Laurel, MD, and now Columbia, MD. We’ve vaguely considered moving to Texas, but we prefer to stay here near our families.

6. Jobs I’ve had:

Movie theater – 2 different theaters in high school, selling tickets, selling concessions, cleaning theaters, etc. On the plus side, movies were free! I didn’t enjoy being held up, though.

Waitress – at Friendly’s. I started out as an “ice cream chef,” for lack of a better term, making the sundaes (as a result, I had oddly developed muscles in one arm from scooping ice cream), and eventually waited tables. It sucked.

Intern—at about a million places, including a newspaper and a bunch of non-profits doing Latin America-related work

Research assistant—I co-wrote a paper about the impact of the U.S. sugar industry on hemispheric free trade agreements. It’s actually available online! I don’t know why anyone would want to read it, though.

Program Coordinator – Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (Univ. of Maryland); my first job out of college. Very boring, but I copyedited a book and my name is in the thank yous.

Specialist – here I am today at the Organization of American States working on hemispheric drug control policy.

7. Peeps I want to know more about: ok, clumsyknitter, knittapleez, stitch bitch, knitidiot and knitty ripper, play along if you want to!

Monday, June 2, 2008

and now, deep thoughts

First I must take a minute and ponder the odd event that was taking place during my lunch hour. As is usual on beautiful sunny days, I walked down to a small pond (the one the crazy man drove his tractor into a few years ago) for a picnic lunch. But upon nearing my destination, I noticed a hoard of children, lining the edge as if prepared to jump in all at once for some sort of simultaneous cannonball record. Upon closer inspection, I determined that the children were fishing—I assume this is some kind of public works program designed to reach out to the DC community. Problems with this:

This isn’t a real pond, it’s just an overgrown puddle.
The water is about a foot deep, if that (you can actually see the geese standing up in it, the tops of their little legs clearly poking out above water).
The only fish I’ve ever seen in there are minnows.
It’s full of seaweed and algae and other green blobs that aren’t fish.

This grand event also required the city to line the pond with port-a-potties, which made it very difficult to find a place to eat that wasn’t occupied by a fishing child, tourist, trashcan or toilet. I finally located a bench that wasn’t downwind of anything and watch ill-behaved kids haul green blobs out of the water for about 30 minutes. So, with all of that entertainment going on, you can understand why I didn’t get any knitting done.

Speaking of knitting, you know what’s hard? Taking a picture of your own foot. My foot looks decidedly misshapen in this photo (I promise I have normal looking feet in real life!), but you can see that it is in encased in a sock—Pomatomus!

Finally, one sock done. I promise to have better photos (and hopefully a new camera) by the time sock #2 is done. I also managed to finish the front of the greedy Lotus Blossom Tank, and have about 9/10 of a ball of yarn left to finish the back—I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Now, I promised to wax poetic about my blogging experience since it is my blogiversary after all (I disagree with the button, I think it should be spelled with an “i”—but it’s hard to debate the spelling of a non-existent word), so first let’s check out my very first post (well technically my second post; my first post was just a welcome post, nothing much interesting to comment on there). When I started this blog, I had nearly been scared off of knitting forever by a box of useless junk masquerading as a knitting kit, and I hadn’t really moved beyond scarves; now I have several pair (and a half) of socks and a cardigan under my belt, and even a hat with some mediocre color work, among other things. But I think my biggest accomplishment over the last year is that I have stopped reading patterns and saying to myself “oh, that’s too hard, I’m not even going to try to learn that” (well, ok, I still say that about steeking. Seriously, cutting up your knitting?!?). I may not jump into each new technique immediately (or even grasp what they really mean—knit into the row below? What is that??), but I now assume I will try it and master it one day (maybe even steeking).

And the best thing about blogging has to be “meeting” people. I know some people have been reading my blog since the beginning and are always leaving thoughtful and funny comments, and in return I read their blogs (except a few of them, sadly, seem to be on hiatus. Boo.) and feel like I’ve found some kindred souls, some people I would be friends with in “real” life, even if we didn’t have knitting in common (I want to do some shout outs here, but I’m terrified I’m going to unintentionally leave someone out, so best skip it—I’m sure all 4 or so of my loyal readers know who they are!). So thanks to all of my readers and friends, I hope you’ll keep reading—you’ll want to be here if I ever tackle steeking. I wonder if you can hear frantic shrieking through the Internet?

[And prize winners, I’m having a difficult time hunting down a few of you on Rav, and not everyone has a blog or blogger profile set up that I can stalk you on, so if you don’t hear from me, please send me an email!]

we have a winner! or 2 or 3 or 4

Hurrah, the big day is here! And so, without further ado, our four big winners (as identified by their blogger IDs) are:

miss t

If you gave me your Rav ID, I'll send you a message there later today to get your shipping details, or if you're super anxious, you can go ahead and send me a message on Rav or at kristen dot jancuk at I'm not going to tell you who gets which prize, so that part will be a surprise. :)

For those interested in the gory details of the winner selection process, I listed all entrants (58 of you) in an excel sheet, so each was assigned a number:

And then had pick out 4 random integers for me (I guess technically I should've done a separate pick for each prize, eliminating those entrants who didn't want certain prizes, but I haven't got all day to run blog contests, and I figured I could easily manage to figure out who shouldn't get what on my own--after all, there are only four of you!).

Thank you all so much for reading my blog and entering my contest. I hope some will continue to read even when I'm not giving things away.

Check back later today, I will post again, waxing poetic about 1 year of blogging, plus I have half an FO to show off!