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

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

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

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

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

learn to ski 
I made a valiant attempt!

learn to water ski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 . . . )

make a Nicaragua photo book

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

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 ;)

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 @ !!

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 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 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).