Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy (almost) New Year!

Not bad for a year's work:


My creation

Especially since a few photos of my last 2010 projects are missing--I completed 30 projects! A banner year.
Next time: resolutions.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!








Monday, December 27, 2010

Everybody dance now!

Well, it's time to go into grump mode: the holidays are over. This is my least favorite time of year. It's cold and dark and boring and cold. Hmph.


But I'm trying to look on the bright side, and one plus is that I can refocus on knitting for myself again. In fact, yesterday I managed to turn the heel on a second sock that's been languishing since before the holidays, so soon I should have another toasty pair of socks for my tootsies.


As far as Christmas knitting, here's what I accomplished:


IMG_3869

The boy is in Jared Flood's Habitat, my sister is wearing Hermione Hearts Ron, mom got the 16 Sixteen Cable hat I blogged about a couple months ago, and dad was the lucky recipient of a Morgan hat. This hat holds a special place in my heart, as I tried to knit it for him last Christmas, and failed miserably. This time, though, it turned out quite nice.


In fact, he really seemed to like it. He put it on several times on Christmas day. But I'm concerned that something in the hat is causing sudden-onset dementia. To quote a famous holiday tune:


"For when he placed it on his head,
he began to dance around!"


My dad put the hat on, and then inexplicably started to do a little dance, imploring us to guess what movie it was from.


::Dance::
::Dance::
"Remember this movie??"
::Dance::


I was bewildered. The only thing it looked like to me were the so-called dance moves of the Peanut Gang from A Charlie Brown Christmas:




But that didn't seem quite right.

Ultimately, I had to give up, at which point dad announced, rather disappointed, that it was "the dance from Evan Almighty."

Oh, right.

I've seen the movie exactly once, and certainly wasn't memorizing any dance scenes. But ok.

I was going to embed the video for you guys, but I could only find one (bad) clip and embedding is disabled, so you'll have to do without.

Probably better off without it!




Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas is comi------oh, wait, a distraction!

So (one of) the (many, many) reason(s) I'm a smidge behind on my Christmas knitting is that I thought it would be a really good idea to knit my friend a lace shawl for her birthday. Which was December 10. And I came up with this brilliant idea on, oh, November 27. Which not only left very little time to accomplish a lacy shawl beyond the scope of any lace project I've completed before, but also interrupted my Christmas knitting, which, up until that point, had been going along fairly smoothly.


I am clearly a genius.

(It really wasn't my fault though. She had complimented my Summer Flies Shawlette. So it was an absolute necessity. See?)


But I pushed ahead and am happy to say, I actually did it.


IMG_3807


Pattern: Damask, by Kitman Figueroa
Yarn: Caper Sock by String Theory
Size: small
Rav link


This is my first "real" lace shawl (ok, it's not done in laceweight, but still)--I've done a few other shawls, but they just had a lace border, or the body was mostly eyelets and not really lace. Not so with this one, which is allover lace, and, frankly, super fantastic. So of course, I could not keep it for myself. It seems to be an unwritten rule that whenever I manage to knit something super fantastic, I've already committed to giving it away. Hmph.


IMG_3810



As many knitters know, lace shawls frequently contain nupps. What you may not know is that "nupp" is shorthand for "will cause hand cramps and general misery." Seriously.


Ok, not seriously, but it may as well be. Here's generally how my nupp experience went.


Right side: "Knit 7 stitches into the next stitch? Well, ok, that's kind of pain, but doable. 1 . . .2 . . . 3 . . .. 5 . . . wait, that was 4. Ok, 5 . . . 6 . . . 8 . . . how did I get 8? Grrrrr. Let's start over. 1 . .. 2 . . . . . . sh!t, lost count again. Well, that's some number greater than 3, that should do it."


Wrong side: "Purl next 7 stitches together??? What the hell? What kind of magic am I supposed to use to do that? These aren't Hermione's bewitched knitting needles here!!! Ok, maybe I should try it before panicking. Let's go . . . ok, that's 1 stitch on the needle . . . 2 . .. 3---come on, 3, get your act together and get on the right hand needle. 4----ack, this is impossible, and I've still got 3 stitches to go. There's no room! Am I supposed to be using a sewing needle?? (Assorted grunting while trying to force needle through remaining stiches.) Ow, ow ow, my hand!! Ok, they're all on there. Now, to pull the yarn through. Oops, split the strand. Oooooops, split the strand again. OK, got it! Got it! Got it! Don't got it. Arghhhhhhhhhhhh. Ouchie, ouchie, my finger!!"


And so on, and so forth.


IMG_3813

I don't know what crafty bastard invented nupps, but clearly some kind of masochist. Or possibly someone with an iron fingertip.

Aside from the nupps, though, this was a fairly enjoyable knit. The designer did an unGodly number of charts, they must've given her quite a headache, but they were easy to follow, and I encountered no problems.  (Well, actually, just one small problem. There's a row missing between the final chart, and the "finishing" instructions--it's hidden in the written instructions for the last chart, but was easy to skip over. It was also easy enough to find once I realized the last charted row was a right side row, and the first row for "finishing" was a right side row, so I'd certainly missed a crucial step somewhere.)

IMG_3818

So there you have it, a shawl in 2 weeks. I have bestowed it upon the lucky recipient, who made all of the appropriate Ooos and Ahhhhs and other assorted compliments. And I'm just trying not to miss my shawl too much as I finish up the last of my admittedly less awesome Christmas gifts.

IMG_3811

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baby it's cold outside . . .

Still. Not as cold, thankfully, but the wind chill is in the 20s, which isn't exactly the Bahamas.

I don't mind too much though--I like it to be cold for Christmas and the New Year. Once those events are over, it could instaneously turn to spring as far as I'm concerned, but I need cold for my winter holidays.

Speaking of, how is Christmas in 5 days? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? I've got 4 gifts to finish. Oops. I'm pretty confident I'll finish 3, which I guess is better than nothing.

And, speaking of gifts, lets announce the winner of the Kiva gift certificate, shall we?

The winner is ............... IVY!! Ivy, please send me an email so I can get your contact info and get your gift certificate out to you. Thanks everyone for your comments and your interest in supporting Kiva borrowers.

As far as knitting goes, I have a few items to show you, just as soon as I can take a break from knitting and work on photos. But if I have any hope of finishing those 4 gifts, I don't have time for much other than knitting between now and the 25th!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brrrrrrrrrrrrr

Some people seem to be under the mistaken impression that Maryland is South, and therefore, not very cold. I have absolutely no idea where this misconception comes from, but let me put this rumor to rest: when I left for work this morning, the windchill was 6. Not 26, not 16, 6SIX!!!! For cryin' out loud.

No, it may not be the arctic circle, but it's darn, darn cold here. Don't move to Maryland thinking we have mild winters.

(And, in this "mild" weather, I spent 25 minutes standing on an above-ground subway station platform, my extremities growing progressively number,waiting for a train.  I've finally regained feeling in my hands, which it why I'm able to write this post.)

Sadly, I am not wearing this today, which would probably help me warm up:

IMG_3759

Pattern: Vine Yoke Cardigan
Yarn: Shibuiknits merino worsted in Mulbbery
Buttons: From NaturalResources
Rav link


IMG_3760

The reason I'm not wearing it today is that I've worn it so much already--it needs a wash, and perhaps some downtime so it doesn't get worn out too quickly.

Needless to say, I absolutely adore it. it fits perfectly, and the yarn is warm and soft, no itch.

The pattern has a lot going on because Ysolda provides so many sizes, but once you get a handle on which instructions apply to you, it's fairly easy. It does involve a few provisional cast-ons, which I'm not a fan of, and it's important to keep track of which row you're on because it skips around a bit where it divides for the body and sleeves. With this pattern, concentration is more important than being a master of any fiddly techniques.

I actually managed to finish this is just one month--far faster than my usual sweater speed.


IMG_3762

I love the buttons, but they're a smidge big. They are the size called for in the pattern, but I would consider going a bit smaller. In fact, if I ever find slightly-smaller-but-equally-gorgeous buttons, I might just change them!



Monday, December 13, 2010

Still time to do some good . . .

Just a reminder that you have until Wednesday, December 15 to comment on this post and be entered to win a $25 Kiva gift certificate!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

'Tis the season--to do some good!*

"Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime."

I try to keep this in mind when making charitable donations--who's just throwing money at a problem, and who's really trying to do something to improve the underlying causes of the problem?

I have several charities near and dear to my heart, but today I'm going to wax poetic about Kiva, because, well, you'll see.

Kiva partners with microlending organizations in developing countries to make small business loans. "Small business," note, doesn't necessarily mean the same thing everywhere that it does here (like when you think of your LYS). It's often very informal--a woman selling "fast food" out of her home, or peddling clothes door-to-door. There's often no licensing, no staff, no marketing--just one person trying to get ahead.

So, what do we do? We are the lenders! Kiva offers a platform through which lenders can direct funds (they do the leg work--researching partner organizations, collecting funds from lenders, all the bureacratic red tape that seems to accompany trying to do something helpful; and the partner organizations do all the on-the-ground work necessary--identifying recipients, disbursing funds, organizing repayments, etc. ), but we pony up the cash.

And we don't just fling some money in Kiva's direction--this is the best part! We, the lenders, read people's stories and choose where to send our money. Some of the stories are incredibly inspirational--I read many of them as a Kiva translator, and always wish I had more money to lend! You also don't need a lot of cash on hand to lend--each loan is funded by multiple lenders, so you don't bear the entire burden.

And then we get our money back. To stick back in our wallets, or re-lend to someone else deserving. (Yes, there are defaults, but they are rare--both Kiva and the partner organizations work hard to identify reliable recipients and businesses to minimize chances for non-repayment.) This is what really makes our money so much more valuable--the same $25 can be used again and again to help different people.

(More info on how Kiva works here.)

Sooooo, this Christmas, I'm not giving away yarn, or pattern books, or anything knitting-related. I'm giving away a chance to do just a little smidge of good--a $25 Kiva gift certificate.

How can you win? Go to kiva.org right now and read some stories. Then come back here, and leave a comment telling me who you would lend to if you won the gift certificate (By the time the giveaway is finished, your chosen loan request will, hopefully, already be funded--but there are always more to pick from!). A knitter in Cusco? An Avon lady in Ecuador? A sheep herder in Azerbaijan? Whose story spoke to you?

When the winner gets his/her gift certificate, I would invite him/her to do a guest post on the blog to tell us all about who received the $25 and why.

(And of course, once the loan is repaid, you are free to withdraw the $25 and keep it for yourself--though I hope you'll continue to re-lend!)

Giveaway open until December 15. Tell your friends!


*(Actually, we should all do some good, all year round, but, well, Christmas is Christmas!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hats off!

I've got to tell you guys, I'm a hat knitting queen this month! Three hats done, and two more on the needles. A quick overview:


IMG_3738

Pattern: Snapdragon Tam, Ysolda
Yarn: Shibuiknits Merino Worsted in Mulberry
Is it for me? No :(


IMG_3765


Pattern: Porom, Jared Flood
Yarn: Madelinetosh ToshDK in Copper Penny
Is it for me? YES!


IMG_3767

Pattern: Frukttradgard, Melissa LaBarre
Yarn: Classic Elite Fresco in, um, green?
Is it for me? No :(


 
Two hats have been sent away to swap recipients, and two hats on the needles aren't for me either, alas. But no matter, I've also finished a sweater that IS for me. I love it. It's warm and soft and pretty. But that's for next time. ;)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Knitting with scissors

Not actually with them, you know, but using them to complete a project. Like EZ's Mitered Mittens. I loved the look of these and it wasn't until I had actually started that I realized they have an afterthought thumb. And not just any afterthought thumb, but the kind where you purposefully snip your yarn and unravel a hole in your knitting.

Some patterns will have you knit across the thumb stitches with waste yarn, then come back and take it out later to reveal live stitches. But EZ is the gutsy type, and she wants you to knit the whole mitten, then go back later and rip a bit out, which frankly leaves a lot of opportunities for disaster. You could snip the yarn in the wrong place, drop a stitch, accidently cut two threads, etc.

But I did as I was told, and it turned out ok:


(I do realize this isn't the best photo, but I'm still figuring out all the bells and whistles on my NEW camera, which will ultimately--hopefully--lead to even better pictures)

The yarn is some Knit Picks WOTA Bulky Handyed, so I can take no credit for the pretty awesome striping pattern that resulted. Since it's a bulky yarn I did make some adjustments in the numbers of stitches for the pattern--I think I cast on 36 stitches. Other than that, it was easy-peasy, quick to memorize and quick to knit up. But as usual, I gave these away, so I'll need to find another mitten pattern for myself.

Speaking of patterns, I am  . . . wait for it . . .

Working on my first pattern design.

And it's nothing fancy, just a scarf.

But it's a lot harder than I anticipated. It's easy to look at a finished pattern and say, 'oh, the designer just plugged stitch patterns in here, here and here, and that's all."  But that's not all. There are a lot of stops and starts as you figure out what works and what doesn't, shrink or expand your stitch patterns, reconfigure what goes where. And that's just for a scarf. I can't imagine what it's like for something as involved as a sweater (though I suppose it may be one of those things that gets easier the more you do it).

But I'm really enjoying it. And hopefully the end result will be a one-of-a-kind scarf for a special someone at Christmas. And then a pattern for you guys. You know, assuming it doesn't wind up looking like a tangle of wool bits that's been runover by Santa's reindeer.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Free time: I haz it again

FINALLY! Two weeks of torturous meeting are complete and I can have a life again. Let me tell you, no one should ever have to be in their office at 11pm.

Of course, now I'm busy trying to convince my Expert group to send me their revised reports, and then correcting their revisions, so it's not exactly paradise here. But still, I leave at 5:30pm, so it's doable.


(With this weekend's time change, I'll now be walking to the subway in the dark--I hate that. I get home and feel like it's time for bed!)


With all of the torture going on, I haven't managed to knit much, but I did finally complete my mom's birthday gift--2.5 months late! Oh well, what was she going to do with a sweater in August anyway??





Yarn: Gedifra Shetland Deluxe
Needles: sz 8
Mods: knit at smaller gauge to get something more like 32", as the smallest size given in the pattern was 36"; knit sleeves in the round up to the cap to eliminate seaming.

To be honest, this wasn't the best yarn for this pattern. It's too dark to show off the eyelet/cable detailing on the front, and it's really too drapey for what should be a more structured cardigan. But, once I started, I wasn't going to stop.


It's got some mohair, so it's a little fuzzy, but really turned out quite soft and with a bit of sheen after washing.

I also didn't finish the sleeves, I left a rolled hem on them. I like it.

While I was knitting the collar, I couldn't help thinking that a short-row collar would've looked so much neater--but while I can usually successfully implement short rows these days, I certainly can't come up with them on my own, so I knit the collar as written, which uses a stepped bind off to create the shaping.

And check out these set in sleeves;

Pretty smooth, huh? This is on the second or third garment I've done with set-in sleeves, but this time, instead of panicking and sewing the sleeves in every which way, I sat down with my tools, took my time, and slowly but surely sewed the sleeves in correctly, with some help from Cirilia:



Now that this is done, I'm dying to knit myself a hat. Pattern suggestions?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Psssst!

 . . . today is my 30th birthday!

I'm celebrating with this guy:


And will be wearing this (and a dress, duh) for my surprise evening out, which I'm assured involves champagne:


30 years . . . where does the time go? I'm actually not sure which makes me feel older: being 30, or knowing that my goddaughter, who was born on my 13th birthday, is turning 17.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Introduc-- ahem, intro-- AHEM!! INTRODU-----

I've got picures to show you guys. TWO projects, in fact. Blogger is having none of it. I'll mark this down as day # 11 squillion that I'm having issues with Blogger.

I really should find a new home . . .

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Christmas time is here . . . or near . . . or not really

But I have finished my first gift for Christmas 2010! 


Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Olive, one skein
Needles: Size 8
Mods: Eliminated some plain knit rounds on the top to flatten it.



This will be a Christmas gift for my mom, who will probably never wear it. Unless I wear it first, visit her, she sees me wearing and decides she must have one (because apparently she thinks a) there's nothing a knitter loves more than knitting the exact some thing twice and b) there's nothing her grown daughter loves more than wearing matching clothing.)

My mom is complicated.

Anyhow, this pattern was a little tricky. Usually I knit cables without a cable needle, but that wasn't happening, trying to cross 8 stitches over 8 stitches. But even though knitting with the cable needle made that aspect easier, it was still a tight, tight squeeze trying to cross those stitches. Using a size 9 needle probably would've been a good idea as well. Fortunately there was something like 8 plain rows between cable rounds, to give my swollen fingers a break.

The pattern lists a few size and "slouch" options, so I knit the larger size with the extra slouchy rows added in. When it was done, it looked more beanie-ish in shape, so blocking was necessary. Here were my materials:


That's a can of pumpkin, and a plastic dinner plate, probably about 8 inches across. If I'd had a 10 inch plate, I would've used that, but alas, no. And buying extra plates for knitting just seems . . . well, a tad over the line.

And here's a terrible shot of the hat blocking: 


 You can see the crown is stretched flat over the plate, and then the plate is balanced over the can so the rest of the hat hangs down and doesn't dry all squished.

And here's how it turned out:

I'm quite happy with it, and more than a little sad that I have to give it away. But there will be other hats. Even if  I do look darn cute in this one:


(Yes, I have a lot of hair.)

In other news, tomorrow is the first day of my very very favorite month of the year, October. And it's also the first day of Socktoberfest and the Through the Loops Mystery Sock KAL! I've wound up a lovely skein of Skinny Bugga! in Blue-arsed Fly, I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

101 in 1001

So, it seems I've got about 9 hours left to complete this list. Something tells me that's not going to happen. Ah well, it's nice to have goals, isn't it? Let's see where we stand.


knit a sweater for ME
more than one!

paint Meghan’s Georgia O’Keefe knock off 
nope, not even close

design and knit an Orioles scarf to wear to freezing April games
hmm, nope.

knit something with bamboo and/or soysilk
easy

knit a baby gift for everyone I know who has a baby (it starts . . . )

buy some fancy, super expensive yarn (cashmere!) and not feel guilty using it to knit something for myself
well, i got some cashmere in a swap, and i fully intend to knit something for myself with it, i'm just not sure what yet. so i'm halfway there.

learn fair isle--the right way.
i can't do two handed fair isle yet (i'm practicing), but i am working on my first real colorwork project, so we'll call this half done.

knit one item per month for Christmas ‘08 and ‘09, so Christmas knitting is done by the end of November each year.
absurd. i'm delusional.

teach someone to knit!
well, no one's asked!

knit at least 25 things from my Ravelry queue (15/25)
the problem with this one is that i didn't take not of what was on my queue when I made the list. so various items have come and gone. i'm calling this done, because i've knit more than 25 projects in the last 3 years.

have LASIK; burn all leftover contact lens paraphernalia in celebratory fire.
prescription is STILL changing. sigh.

take a daily multivitamin (0/1001? I’m not counting this one!)
um, nope.

take a yoga class, possibly with Meghan or, haha!, Mom
not quite, though i am looking for one to take on wednesday nights!

go to the dermatologist
oops

stop drinking so much damn diet soda (cut to 1 a day) and drink more water
i did it! in fact, i'm down to only the occasional soda, once a week perhaps, and i'm not even buying it at the store anymore. yay me! i'm counting this as two ;)


buy a bike, and ride it
nope

start running 1 day a week after work and both Sat and Sun; increase to 2 days after work if not dead yet (that should do it . . .)
i've started and stopped various exercise programs over the last 3 years. most recently i started working out again about 3 weeks ago, but i've been sidelined by a cold.

cut TB down to 1/month (er, that’s Taco Bell, not tuberculosis)


go to the dentist
no. and i really need to.

get a new, exciting haircut

tattoo #4
nope. not really a priority for me now.

buy a matt & nat handbag (or perhaps receive one as a gift!)
nope. i'd still like one though.

buy wellies, and actually wear them when it rains
really need to do this

buy a black suit jacket
of course, i left it in Mexico City. oops.

if hair refuses to remain attractive shade of blonde year round, start getting it colored or highlighted
i'm pretty happy with it, actually
 find and purchase the perfect pair of jeans
Lucky Brand Denim, i love you. Old Navy diva jeans, you're not bad either. and you're a hell of a lot cheaper.
 get a facial
nope

read War and Peace and 9 other classics I’ve missed out on (3/10)
let's see. i attempted to read War and Peace, but i didn't get very far. but i did read A Tale of Two Cities, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Dracula, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and half of Northanger Abbey and parts of the Grapes of Wrath, Anna Karenina, Moby Dick and O Pioneers over the last 3 years, so I'm calling this done.


start piano lessons
no. particularly as I no longer have a piano
 take a Portuguese course
no, but i'm still planning to do this one!

learn to Salsa
it's really a lifetime learning kinda thing, but i'm working on it.

join a Stitch ‘N Bitch and/or a book club
no, but i'd still like to

take a French refresher course
nope

learn to ski 
I made a valiant attempt!


learn to water ski
no

get a Spanish-speaking “e-pen pal” and write at least once a week
no longer necessary


read Love in the Time of Cholera in Spanish


re-join LASA; read the journals when they arrive
meh, no
 visit the National Gallery or another museum once a month
hehe. no.

give Harry Potter a try

read 101 books (101/101) – including those 10 classics
i didn't keep track, but i've read a lot, so i'm calling it done.

write and publish (somewhere!) an article/paper that has nothing to do with sugar and FTAAs
no.

cut the mats out of Nelly’s fur (without inadvertently stabbing Nelly or emotionally scarring her for life)
done, but needs to be done again!

visit Amy in NC

assume Meghan will get married, and help plan Meghan’s wedding without strangling her
this one's not my fault, as Meghan is not getting married anytime soon

visit Dave and Laura in NY
no

find a vegetarian meal Dad likes and do NOT give Mom the recipe
this is impossible

find out what ever happened to Jolly Joel
no, he's a mystery

host a big holiday (Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas)
i have not been permitted to do so :(

spend more time with Alicia before she hits 16 and becomes too cool for everything (go to the BES Invitational every year)
i have been to the invitational, so half done.

do NOT have a baby
check

attend 10 year high school reunion and be fabulous; convince Clare to go as well

make a new friend (IRL, not on the ‘net, where it’s so much easier)

open and fully fund a Roth
it's not fully funded, too many bills, but i've got one!
 de-clutter house and get rid of crap I will never, ever use (I’m looking at you, weird cheese tray from Mom!)
could use some work. and i started using the cheese tray! who knew?

buy new dining room and bedroom furniture
bought a mattress, does that count?

plant veggie garden every spring and actually use the veggies, not let them rot on the vine and/or in the fridge
still have some serrano peppers to use from this year. made some really delicious terrible for you stuffed jalapenos too.

visit Europe—or at least book the trip for my 30th (just after these 1,001 days--eek! eek!)
nope, next year

elect President who will permit me to travel to Cuba; visit Cuba
so close. but not there yet
 go to an Os game out of state (and don’t get killed by the opposing team’s fans)

visit CA, TX and FL
two out of three ain't bad

go to a Ravens game; pretend to enjoy football
why waste the money?

see Amy Winehouse in concert, if she’s not dead yet; also see The Killers again
i've seen The Killers twice, but Amy isn't touring. she's not dead, though.

eat at Pazo and 19 other new restaurants
i've tried some really great restaurants over the last few years throughout the Baltimore/DC/No.VA region. i should post about them at some point.
 go to a wine tasting and/or take a wine class
lots!

take a cruise
no :(

visit another alpaca farm, preferably in Peru
i went to a farm in Cape May, NJ, but next year hope to do the Peru thing again!


visit Bolivia
nope

rent a hotel room downtown for 4th of July or New Year’s Eve to watch the fireworks over the harbor
nope

find the best Chinese restaurant
Veggie Garden!

see Wicked
next year at the Kennedy Ctr!
 take a ghost tour of Old Ellicott City, Fells Point, or other for Halloween
i'm counting this is done because we bought tickets for one in a couple weeks

get an actual martini at Cosmos instead of frou frou girlie Chocolate Raspberry Martini
sadly, Cosmos is too far away to do happy hour these days :(
go back to Nicaragua to work with Fabretto or JHC; stay for 2 weeks if I can!
no :(

give blood twice a year (2/6)
after nearly passing out on the subway last time, no

set up an automatic monthly donation to Fabretto, JHC, ASPCA and/or other charities; increase it every year
not quite. i really should. but you guys helped me raise bunches of money for CCFA this year, so thanks!

Donate $5 to charity for each thing on this list I don’t complete by the deadline.
we'll tally that up in a minute!

buy a car with manual transmission
i'm not really in the market for a new car


smile graciously at a Yankees/Red Sox fan at Camden Yards and don’t give them the finger behind their back (and there’s the first $5 . . . )
HA!


make a Nicaragua photo book
nope

collect and frame all the Beatles LPs (regular full-length studio releases)
i did buy some awesome bizarre Beatles LPs in Mexico, but as for studio releases, not much progress
 get Aunt Rose’s chrusciki recipe; make chrusciki without killing anyone or setting the house ablaze
they were a hit!

make an LOLcat
nope

send a postcard to PostSecret
i no longer feel compelled to do this, i don't know why

write and send scathing letter to DC Metro system documenting atrocious failures and supreme dissatisfaction with service; then suck it up and deal with poor service

master Super Mario Galaxy and Super Paper Mario
not quite

play Civ IV on a level above “Warlord” and win (time victory OK but, let’s face it, pretty weak)
so now i can buy Civ V!

buy an orchid. Don’t kill it.
this is a good one, i should do it.

start using reusable grocery bags
i have 1. that doesn't really count. shame on me. but the plastic ones at least come in handy for cleaning cat poo.


learn to read tarot and entertain people at parties with astonishing insights ;)
nope.


Ok, so let's tally up all of the things I could've conceivably accomplished and just didn't , and see what I owe . . .

Looks like 45 things, so I'll be sending $225 to my favorite charity before the end of the year. You guys, keep me honest--don't let me forget!

I think I'm going to make one of these lists again . . .

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Teeny tiny terror

Isn't it funny how sometimes the smallest projects give us the most trouble?

My friend Catherine gave birth to an adorable baby boy on September 11, and I had planned out 3 gifts for him. Two were done, but one was languishing--Sheldon.



I picked Sheldon because Catherine and her husband are big Maryland Terrapins fans, and since you can customize the colors, I could make a pint-sized terrapin for the baby.

Don't be deceived, though, this project isn't as small as it looks. And certainly not as easy.

The body was fine, the legs were tedious, but easy.

And then I got to the shell.

Oh the shell.

You knit the top. Then you knit the bottom. Then you seam them together in some impossible fashion, using different methods for the top, bottom and sides because all the increases and decreases lead to messy edges, and you can't follow a single row of stitches to save your life.

And then, once that torture is finally over, you knit the Shell Attachment Panel.

Ok, the knitting part is easy enough. What's not easy is the Attaching part. At this point in the KNITTING pattern, the author suddenly expects you to know how to crochet.

(And this is an irrational pet peeve of mine. I don't crochet. I don't have time or the will to learn, and really, I have enough yarn, patterns and knitting needles to last a lifetime, I don't need to add another hobby. If 99% of the pattern is knitting, please don't suddenly through some crochet at me out of left field.)

So maybe this is easier if you do crochet, but as I don't, I had to improvise at this point and knit around the edge of the panel to get it to fold up into the appropriate form.

And then, finally, you use an icord border to attach the shell to the Shell Attachment Panel, which would again be a lot easier if the rows of stitches weren't disappearing into edges and generally refusing to line up.

But it is attached, and the icord border is quite forgiving, covering up all manner of sins.


Now I just need to attach the legs and send him on his merry way.

The saddest part is, there are all kinds of costumes I could knit for Sheldon, but I honestly never want to see another Shell Attachment Panel as long as I live.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

There's no such thing as a free lunch . . .

But there is such a thing as free yarn. And I tried to give some away. But alas, monica and ohgrumpy57 have not responded to claim their prizes. So without email addresses or ravelry names or any other identifying information (and fairly certain that writing "ohgrumpy57" on a box and slapping on some postage won't do much good), I am forced to pick two new winners.

Marlitharn and StaceyKnitsIt, come on down . . . you're the next contestants on, um, Win a Box o' Yarn for No Reason!

Now, based on your names, and any info I can track down through blogger or Ravelry, I'll do my best to notify you and get your shipping address. But, if you didn't leave any contact info, then please, new winners, claim your prizes. Email me, comment on the post with your email, pm me on Ravelry, whatever.

So, that's that. Next post, I'm going to tell you why knitting an adorable turtle is making me want to quit knitting forever.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The one that got away

I've scrolled back and forth through my own blog numerous times and have come to the conclusion that I forgot to blog about one of my FOs.

It's a pretty big one. A garment. And I love it. So I'm not sure how I missed posting about it. Must've been too wrapped up in giving away free yarn (which is STILL sitting in my room folks! If this stuff isn't claimed by the end of this week, I'm going to draw two more winners. And remind you to be sure to CHECK BACK and see if you've won contests that you've entered!).

So, better late than never, I present to you Trellis and Keyhole Tank:

Pattern: Trellis and Keyhole Tank, by Connie Chang Chinchio
Yarn: Elsbeth Lavold Hempathy, 4+ skeins
Size: 34
Mods: None
New techniques: some pain in the butt provisional cast on I can't remember the name of right now, but that I really didn't like and still don't know the reasoning for.
Ravelry link

This one took a while because, well, look at those miles of stockinette to slog through. Rough. And while I do like the look of the Hempathy now that the shirt is done, it was bit rough on my hands, particularly trying to do that hindu pillar stitch (k,p,k into the same stitch).



It fits me perfectly as a fairly fitted top, but according to Connie's pattern page, she intended it to be a more blousson style. I can see how that might fit better with the design, and had I known that originally, I might've gone up a size. And were I to do it again, I would make it a smidge longer--the hem hits right at the waistband, so you're showing off your tummy reaching up to any high shelves. (Or petting alpacas--see previous post)



And guess what? I even crocheted the ties:


It's just a very simple chain, but I did it! And with what, you might ask, if you happen to know I don't own any crochet hooks? Well, I used this.

Hey, it worked.

The most remarkable thing about this piece is that the yarn will not. stop. bleeding. When I first went to block it, I rinsed it out three times and still wound up with a towel full of purple dye.

Then after the first wear I washed it (using these helpful tips). I popped it in the machine with my Lotus Blossom Tank and two pair of socks and left it to soak. Then about 20 minutes later I remembered with horror about the bleeding, and ran to the machine to find all my items soaking in pink water. (I may or may not have panicked and run about the condo carrying sopping wet clothes and wailing while I waited for the machine to empty and refill). No worries, my other clothes were safe! But I'll be washing this one on its own from now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Look, an alpaca!


In other news, I have not heard from monica or ohgrumpy57--there's no info available from blogger, no email address was included, couldn't find you on Ravelry, so please, if you want your yarn, send me an email! kristen dot jancuk @ gmail.com !!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Drumroll please . . .

It's time to announce the winners of my yarn giveaway! I've picked 3 winners, each of whom will receive a package with approximately 7 random skeins of yarn.

Now, how did this selection process work? I'm glad you asked.

First, I put the blogger usernames of all the entrants into an Excel sheet, like this:


There were 57 entrants!

Then I went over to random.org to request 1 set of 3 random, non-duplicating integers, like so:

(Between 2 and 58, rather than 1 and 57 because the first line of my sheet is "name.")

So I took my 3 random numbers, 21, 26 and 32:

And headed back over to my spreadsheet to find the lucky winners:


So, blogger users Monica, Alexander the Great and Ohgrumpy57 are the lucky winners!!! If you left me an email, rav name, etc., I'll be contacting you, or feel free to email me at kristen dot jancuk at gmail.com. Prizes will ship out next week, after the holiday weekend.

Thanks everyone for visiting my blog and commenting, I hope some of you will keep reading even when I'm not giving things away, and everyone have a great long weekend!

Next week I'll be back with tales of frightening colorwork project I've inexplicably decided I can do, and an FO I forgot to show off that won't stop bleeding (dye, that is).

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Knitting is Sexy

We all know it's true, but we've still got to convince the rest of the world.

Check this out.

They need $900 by September 10 so they can get this sexy knitlicious calendar printed, so if you can spare a few bucks, why not back them?

We're all tired of being compared to grannies in rocking chairs, right? Let's do something about it!

p.s. I heard a rumor that the super fantastically awesome Jasmine of the Knitmore Girls is one of the models . . .

Monday, August 30, 2010

FO: itteh bitteh bootehs

Wow, you all sure like your free yarn, huh? Well, you've still got a few days to leave a comment on my previous post for a chance to win a yarn grab bag. I'll announce winners on the 2nd, but then I'm going away for the weekend (one last long weekend before The Madness begins in my office), so grab bags will ship out the following week.

Good news: I found the missing bootie. It snuck into a pile of yarn in my WIP basket and hid there, but I dug it out and completed the Moc-a-Soc botties this weekend:

Pattern: Baby Moc-a-Soc by Bekah Knits
Yarn: Leftover Bugga and Shivaya Naturals Fingering
Mods: Zip
Ravelry link

Easy as pie, assuming you don't lose a bootie, and a great way to use up some leftover sock yarn. Picking up and knitting the fake sock cuffs was a bit tedious and fiddly, so if you're looking for a really quick project, you could skip that part altogether, the booties are pretty cute on their own.



I'm also working on a pair of Boyfriend Socks, which feature short row heels. These are my first short row heels, in fact, and I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out:


After searching bunches of videos online about the best way to pick up wraps, I've finally settled on preferred methods for both the knit and purl sides. I was even thinking about making a little instructional video for you guys, but I haven't quite worked out how to manage that, since the webcam on my laptop is built in to the top of the screen. I would have to hold the laptop in my lap facing away from me, wrap my arms around the screen and then try to knit holding my arms awkwardly in front of the camera . . . tricky. I don't know how people make those videos. Maybe that's why they always seem a bit shaky and out of focus.

At any rate, this wobbly video helped me decipher the mystery of picking up wraps on the purl side. As for the knit side, I sadly cannot find the life-altering video that cleared that mystery up for me, I'll have to keep looking. I always found picking up the wrap from below and popping it onto the needle wound up looking sloppy; with this "new" method, you slip the wrapped stitch to your right needle, slide the left needle under the wrap from the back, and then slide the stitch back and knit them together. That's probably clear as mud, but when I find the video, it will totally make sense. It seems to keep the stitches neater, at least in my opinion. 

And in other news, what the hell, Malabrigo?

This is a lovely skein of rich brown, why are there several yards of inexplicably pale pink yarn in the middle, mucking it up? Thankfully this is the back of the heel, otherwise I would be quite unhappy.