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!