Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Since I concluded in my last post that I had no immediate need to shop for yarn, I'm sure you've deduced that that's exactly what I did. I was pretty psyched to find Silky Wool in Lava at Lavender & Peonies on super sale ($4.79 or so per skein), but alas, she emailed me after I placed the order to inform me that they'd run out (well, OK, they had 5 skeins left, but I need at least 7, so that does me no good; I have no desire to play the "I'm sure this dye lot will magically match!" game). So the search continues.

Still plugging away at Pomatomus and Hemlock, but of course I'm at work, so no pictures. Speaking of work, my boss is yet again out of town--along with the rest of my team--and yet again left me no work to do. I am SO bored. I wish I had my own office, I would just shut the door and knit the day away. But no, I have a cube in a high traffic area, not to mention a cube-mate (an intern who probably has more responsibilities than I do). Sigh.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring has sprung . . .

(Yep, those are the cherry blossoms!)
But I can only assume it then tripped over its own feet and fell back into the hole it hibernates in during winter, because, despite being the first day of la primavera, it is decidedly less than spring-y here—very windy and in the 40s. Sigh. Who wants to go to Easter mass dressed like it’s Christmas? (Incidentally, do you know how they decide when Easter is? “Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox.” I had no idea the Church was so earth mother-y, following the cycles of the moon and sun.)

Yesterday I had the evening to myself since Josh was off playing basketball, but I somehow managed to spend all my time on the computer researching yarns for future projects, rather than doing any actual knitting, or anything else productive, for that matter. After wasting 2 hours debating the merits of a bamboo silk blend versus a cotton bamboo blend, I finally settled on yarns for my Lotus Blossom Tank (cheaped out a bit and decided to try Valley Yarns Southwick) and mom’s Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell (Cascade Pima Silk). I also bought 2 skeins of some random worsted weight yarn to bump my purchase total over the requisite $60 so I could get my 20% off—it may become a Koolhaas for Josh.

I’ve also picked out the yarn I want to use for my sister’s Henley Perfected, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in Lava, but I haven’t come to terms with the price yet ($7/skein—that’s a $50 sweater for my sister, who will more than likely accidentally throw it in the washing machine the first time she wears it), so I’ve been scouring eBay and the Ravelry ISO and Destashing group. No luck yet, though. Fortunately, I’m not scheduled to knit this one until much later in the year.

So, I now have (or will soon have) in my possession yarns for at least 6 different upcoming projects. In theory, this means no more yarn shopping for a while. In theory.

And as usual, I’ve been putting more thought than time into knitting—I crafted an essay about the wonder that is Ravelry and submitted it to Blue Hands Fibers’ essay contest. She’ll be awarding an All Raveled Up Sock Club to the winner, so go check it out!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Snide + remark = snark

Still plugging away at Hemlock, but, yes, I think it's quite possible that this pattern is cursed! That's the only plausible explanation for the difficulty everyone seems to have--or in my case, not so much a difficulty as a random bout of illiteracy. I switched to the 4 rows st st, but as I mentioned previously, it's almost impossible to stretch this thing out and get a good look at how it's progressing, so I can't really comment on the impact of this change on the blanket's aesthetic value. Oh well. Onward!

In other news, I decided to take the plunge and go ahead and start another blog--I mean, what do I have to lose? Even if no one ever reads it, I'll never know. On the other hand, someone could be awestruck by my innate talent for wordcraft and offer me some kind of job that doesn't involve making photocopies. So, with fingers crossed for the latter, I present my new blog, devoid of knitting, but full of snark: http://onlytakesasnark.blogspot.com. I welcome all* feedback of course.

*"all" should be understood to mean "of the complimentary variety."

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I could've sworn I could count. Honestly. But apparently my brain took a leave of absence without notifying management. Somehow, I've only been putting 3 knit rows in the Hemlock's feather and fan section instead of 4.


The chart clearly shows 4 knit rounds after every pattern round. Why am I an idiot? And now what do I do? Stick with 3? Switch to 4?


Friday, March 14, 2008

And he shall be my squishy

I’ve got WIP photos for you today! Joy!

And I know what you’re thinking. “Kristen has finally cracked. She’s now crafting a gray blob resembling a jellyfish and trying to pass it off as something of actual value.” Well, I make no claims about my sanity, but I assure you, this is an actual project. It’s the Hemlock Ring Blanket!

Having glanced at this photo, I’m sure you’ve quickly identified the same downside to this project that I have—knitting something round from the center means that it’s trapped in your circs looking like a blob until you can bind off and stretch it out. Which makes it hard to evaluate your work. This is clearly more of a “blind faith” project.

But, it has been going very quickly so far, despite the neuroses that compel me to recite the pattern aloud as I’m knitting and obsessively count the stitches after each section (another reason I don’t knit in public, perhaps?). I expect it will start moving more slowly as I add more and more stitches. I’ve completed the intial center section and am ready to start on Jared’s feather and fan chart.

The eco wool, which comes in 478 yd skeins and is wound into a ball roughly the size of my head, is surprisingly not scratchy. I thought something so earthy might be a bit tougher (when I ordered it, I had vision of burlap dancing in my head), but it’s pretty soft.

I also have a smidge of Pomatomus done.

I’m really not good with charts—it would make all the sense in the world to buy a chart holder so I wouldn’t lose my place every time I glance down at my knitting, but have I done so? Of course not—so this will probably be a drawn out project. The first row I knit from the chart is a little wonky, too, because I always have problems with YOs in purl. Isn’t that yarn beautiful, though?

And now, a gripe about my job. Because, well, I just have to get this out. I will preface this gripe by saying that when I was hired in August for this P1 position (that “P” designates a professional position, ie, not administrative; admin positions are designated, inexplicably, by a “G”) with the title “Specialist,” I had no idea that most of my time would be spent on mindless administrative tasks such as making photocopies, booking flights, and doing other people’s paperwork; had I known the fate that would befall me, I certainly wouldn’t have taken the job—this is, frankly, not what I hoped to be doing with a Masters Degree in Latin American Studies (I do not think that having a Masters automatically entitles me to be running the show; I do think that with 6 years of higher education, 2 years of full time work, and at least 6 internships under my belt, it should be assumed that I have the capacity for more substantive tasks than operating the fax machine). I understand the title Specialist is vague, but no one specializes in photocopies and paperwork. No one.

So, I spent a solid day late last month booking flights for my boss and another coworker (Oops, forgot to mention, everyone on my 6-person team is going to Argentina at the end of the month except for me and the pregnant girl, who would be going if she weren’t with child; they all went to Colombia in November too. Bastards.), harassing the travel agent about finding better flights, better connections, better layovers; combing every inch of the internet for a better price; and then harrassing the travel agent again because they want better seats (who doesn’t?). And coworker comes up to me today to ask—again!—if I can call and see about better seats. 1) I am not a travel agent. 2) I already did that and they said no dice. 3) I am not a miracle worker, nor do I have magical powers (and if I did, this sure as hell isn’t what I would be using them for). 4) THIS SHOULD NOT BE MY JOB!!! If you want to waste your time on the phone arguing about your seating assignment be my guest, but I am not going to call again and harrass someone about seats that aren’t even for me, after already putting her through the ringer once. I am not your personal assistant. Grrrr.

In that vein, while I love regaling you all with tales of my knitting prowess or lack thereof, I’ve been pondering starting a second blog (I’m so greedy) to share my thoughts on life—because I don’t want to get too off track here, where I intend to keep the focus on knitting. I have a lot of opinions, as you might have guessed. I edited and wrote op/eds for my college newspaper for 2 years, and I’ve really been missing the opportunity to spout off about all those things, both significant and inane, that work their way into my consciousness on a daily basis. So I’ll mull this idea over for a few more days; keep an eye out, you’ll be the first to know if/when I decide to expand my empire (I gave up playing Civilization IV for Lent; in retrospect, that maybe have been a more important outlet for my expansionist tendencies than I thought).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I find it so disappointing when other languages have much “prettier” words for everyday objects than the English language. Why is it, for example, that we get “socks,” and the hispanohablantes get “calcetines”? This is just one example of the aural superiority of the Spanish language that prompts me to increasingly speak Spanglish, despite the fact that no one outside of work understands me--just because it sounds nicer. Why should I have to say “bat” when I could say “murcielago,” or “carrot” when the more exciting “zanahoria” is available? (Those are your Spanish words of the day; there’ll be a quiz in my next post. Make flashcards!)

So, speaking of calcetines, the Gentleman Socks are done—my first gift for Christmas 2008!

Pattern: Gentleman Socks from Fiber Fool Designedly, Kristi (who was also so kind as to help me convert the pattern to DPNs when I was utterly clueless—big thanks!); Ravel it here.
Yarn: 2 skeins Knit Picks Essential Tweed in Inca Gold
Needles: size 2 DPNs

Quite happy with these, although of course I have no idea if they’ll actually fit my grandfather, and won’t find out until December (I certainly hope he’ll still be alive then, but he’s really getting on in years!). I came across no mistakes in the pattern, perfectly flawless, and it includes four sizes, which is unusual in a good way! The twist is easy to memorize, but gives a much more interesting look than plain ribbing. I felt the yarn didn’t have much give, but on the plus side, I love the flecks of color, which I think spice up the look without detracting from the stitch pattern.

So I bestow my stamp of approval on this project, and will proceed to store the calcetines away in a plastic bin and pray no moths find them. (We have no moth problem as far as I know, but as I plan to make and store all of these projects, I’m becoming increasingly paranoid that all my hard work will be eaten.)

Done with these, I promptly cast on for more socks—what’s that about? But I loved the beautiful berry colored yarn I got from my swap buddy so much, I decided it was time to knit a pair of socks for myself. I’ve picked the popular Pomatomus, but I’ve only just finished the cuff, so nothing to show yet.

Yesterday the mailman brought me the last few herramientos (tools. See?!?) I need to get started on the Hemlock Ring Blanket. I’m trying to be proactive about this project because it looks tough. So I’ve joined the Yahoo KAL (of course, I haven’t actually posted anything on the message board; I’m just there to steal all their secrets!), and printed the transcripts from the WEBS podcast KAL as well. I’m well-armed, but already wary because apparently a standard cast-on doesn’t work particularly well for something being knit in the round from the center, so everyone is recommending alternative cast-ons that I’m unfamiliar with. You know a project is daunting when even the cast-on is difficult.

Sadly, both of these projects involve charts, so neither is a good candidate for subway knitting. But I realized yesterday that, aside from that, there is a reason I don’t knit on the subway more often—the newspaper guy. In what I assume is a half-hearted attempt to appease riders and distract them from the dilapidated stations, shoddy trains and generally abysmal service provided by Metro, they hand out a free newspaper. Metro Express is a Washington Post publication (I can hardly believe it myself, given that one of my pastimes on the train is spotting glaring typos, mismatched headlines, and grade school grammar mistakes), so it’s basically a summary of the big newspaper, only it goes to print around 6pm the previous night, I assume, because it contains absolutely no real “news,” just stuff you already saw on the evening news the night before. And while it’s totally unnecessary, because most of the people riding the Metro aren’t blind and have functioning appendages so they could, in all likelihood, spot a pile of these newspapers and pick one up if they so desired, they pay people to hand these newspapers out in front of the station. So I’ve concluded that my failure to knit on Metro stems from my need not to disappoint the newspaper guy. He hands me a paper every morning. I know he sees hundreds of people a day and probably wouldn’t remember me even if I rode around town in my underwear while handing out free donuts, but I feel as though he recognizes me and would be disappointed if I brushed by him without saying hello and taking the paper. I also know I could take the paper and not read it—they’ll all end up in the recycling bin regardless—but that seems so disingenuous, to take a paper from the newspaper guy with no intention of reading it. I would be letting the newspaper guy down! He stands out there all morning, in the cold, rain, snow, etc., and hands me a paper so I will be well-informed! If I don’t take and read a newspaper, it would be tantamount to spitting on his efforts! So I take, and I read, and I don’t knit. Sigh.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I have no major knitting accomplishments or failures to speak of today, sadly, but I'm bored at work (apparently the boss didn't think to leave me any work before departing on her week-and-a-half-long trip to . . . wherever she is), so I thought I'd just ramble a bit, kill some time. Incidentally, as I type this I'm snuggling into Mrs. Darcy--she's a bit stretched out, I need to take her home for a bath and reshaping, but of course, cleanliness and size have little impact on her warmth, she's keeping me quite cozy.
Gentleman's socks are nearly done. I took them on a tour of the subway yesterday, but I don't think they enjoyed it, the bumpy ride (I shudder to think what the train might be bumping over) made for slow, slippery knitting. People are always saying that socks are a great portable project, but I don't agree. Too many needles to keep track of, and since my travels involve public transportation, there's also a high probability of poking myself in the eye. On the other hand, I guess a needle might make for an impromptu weapon, should the need arise, but brandishing a sharp stick at a man with a gun is probably just delaying the inevitable.
My March Christmas project is the Hemlock Ring Blanket. I have the wool (I think this is the first time I'm knitting a project in the specified wool!), but neither 40" cable nor size 10 DPNs, so I ordered them from KnitPicks yesterday, along with some sock yarn for Josh's Christmas socks, and yarn for Dad's Christmas gloves. If you've glanced at the chart for the blanket, you'll probably agree that this will be a challenging project--a lot of stitches to keep track of. Wish me luck.
It was warm for 2 whole days here this week--I almost hate that, because it's only March, you know it's going to get cold again, so it's just a tease; and indeed, this weekend we'll have lows in the 20s--and it's prompted me to think about summer and potential summer-y projects. I'm curious about bamboo yarn, and how it wears--is it light and breathable? I'd like to try out this Ella Rae bamboo blend for Mom's birthday gift, and perhaps for my own Lotus Blossom Tank (Lickety Knit's version is, IMHO, vastly superior to the original, which, despite being pretty in and of itself, is horribly unflattering on the model--why on earth is it so short?).
Well, I wish I had more to ramble about, given that it's not even 11am here and I have many many hours yet to kill, but I'd better sign off before I start spouting off about the mortgage crisis, presidential election, or Colombia/Ecuador standoff and what a lunatic Hugo Chavez is. (Of course, if you want to hear my thoughts on any of those things, you can always email me.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

yarny goodness

Didn't do much knitting this week, as I'm sick (of course! damn airplanes! they're just giant germ incubators!) and we had some meetings at work that required a few extra hours there (boo! I haven't mentioned it recently, but in case you were wondering, I'm still pretty unhappy with my job, even if someone did give me a delicious alfajor yesterday). But yesterday I came home to a box full of knitting wonderfulness that I must share with you:

This is my goodie package from my sock knitters swap, courtesy of Raveler CottonTheAct, whose name amuses me to no end (I'm a sucker for creative names--my favorite restaurant in Ocean City, for example, is called Tequila Mockingbird.). I got 2 lovely skeins of sock yarn, some hot cocoa, some chocolates, some cutesy sock shaped point protectors (I sent the same ones to my buddy!), some stitch markers and a travel journal, which I especially appreciate because I was annoyed that I didn't remember to buy one for Costa Rica (and refused to pay the outrageous sum they were charging for one at the hotel gift shop). CottonTheAct's kitty Gizmo also sent some homegrown catnip to my cats, which they've been quite enjoying--especially Dory, who I fear may need some kind of 12 step program. I'm so happy to have some sock yarn in my stash--I might finally knit a pair for myself.
Still working on the gentleman's socks, should be done this week. I'm supposed to start the Hemlock Ring Blanket in March, I need to order a cable for my options set so I can get started!