Saturday, December 31, 2005

There's No Place Like Home

No matter how much fun you have when you go away, there is always something comforting and nice about going home. This is especially true if your vacation is just visiting the family, not because the visit was bad, but because it isn't the same type of trip as, say, going to the Virgin Islands. Isis and I settled immediately back into "home" mode, which basically means, complete relaxation, for a time. For me, this total relaxation didn't last long, a friend mine from Baltimore came up yesterday. While this friend of mine knits, she really isn't what I would call a "knitter" if you know the difference. If you aren't sure of the difference, let me put it this way: last time I visited K in San Diego, we hit at least 15 yarn shops, in several cities, including LA (we went to at least 6 in LA proper) in a one week time frame. If you are reading this blog, chance are that either you have done something like that before, or that a trip where you do that sounds like something close to a dream vacation. I can't see Baltimore friend being up to that kind of challenge. I did talk her into agreeing to go the Circles party on Sunday, now I just need to plan what to bring!
My friend is a crafty person, and is a late riser, so I expect to get some more knitting done this weekend. My goal, though probably not a reachable one, is to get the sleeves done for Lace and Tuck. As you can see, I started them. In case "the case of the stupid second sleeve" (i.e. grandmom's sweater) didn't prove it to you, I have some problems with second sleeves. Therefore, at some point this past spring, after finishing grandmom's first sleeve, I began the process of knitting both sleeves on the same needles at the same time. My wisdom has now grown to include putting the skiens of yarn for the sleeves into baggies to keep them neat. My skills have grown (in Augustish) to include the ability to knit backwards, taking the stitches from the right needle and placing them onto the left. What, you may ask, does this have to do with knitting both sleeves at once? Am I merely a braggart? I don't think I am, but sometimes we don't see ugly qualities about ourselves. No, this is being mentioned because often knitting 2 sleeves on the same needles at the same time results in a tangled mess from turning the needles repeatedly. I am avoiding by taking my new skill and knitting (or more accurately purling) the ws rows backwards. Viola, yarn neat because it is in baggies, and untangled because I am not turning the work. What this will do to my gauge is anyone's guess.

Friday, December 30, 2005

That's A Lot Of Yarn!

Happy New Year's Eve Eve Purly Gate readers! I'm sure everybody is busy finalizing plans for the big night. Personally, it hasn't been a big night for me in many years. In my old age, I've found that going out in all of those crowds and then driving home with all of the drunks makes me tense and I'd rather stay home. This year, in fact, I considered canceling our usual get-together with my brother and his wife and new baby because I didn't want them driving home either, but they still want to go forward. I usually do fondue, but since we just had a fondue party, I'll have to be more clever this year. But you can be sure they'll be plenty of Trader Joe's $3.99 champagne. Last year when Joe came back from Iraq, we celebrated with a bottle of Dom Perignon, and it wasn't as good as the TJ's stuff in my opinion. The Dom was very sweet, but the TJ's stuff is very dry - "delish" as Rachael Ray would say!

Anyway, I've been knitting, but most of the pictures would bore you to tears. For starters, I cast on for the Ombre Blanket and worked a few inches, but I haven't done more because of this:

Look at all of that beautiful yarn! What could possibly hold me back? Well, maybe that the ball winder and swift at the Grove is broken! I wound the first two by hand, which isn't a big deal, but c'mon, that's a lot of yarn to wind by hand. I'll probably do a couple more today and push forward.

Which brings me to another point. That photo represents less than half the yarn for the blanket (yikes!). For the rest, I have a decision to make. The Grove carries it for $8.25 per skein plus CA tax of 7.75%. Kpixie has it for $7.50 with no tax and $5 flat shipping. However, Knit Happens is having a sale right now and is selling it for $7 with free shipping for orders over $100. So, if I did that, I'd save around $25 for 14 skeins. The drawback is that it's much less painful to buy it one color at a time, when I'm ready. I'm not really ready now, having just bought the yarn for Clapotis and for the Somewhat Cowl. So, my question is, is it worth it to bite the bullet and buy a lot of yarn now to save $25? What do you think?

Finally, I got a PDA for Christmas from my husband. Not a lot of bells and whistles, but it does what I need it to do which is keep track of my contacts and my appointments. However, it didn't come with any sort of case, so I decided to knit the one from Stitch and Bitch: The Knitters Handbook. I thought about buying yarn in fun colors like pink, orange and green, but see the above-referenced self-imposed poverty. So, I dug through my stash and came up with this. How can such a little project generate SO many ends?

Here it is all pinned together. It still needs to be blocked because it's curling so much. I knit it at a fairly tight gauge so it would truly provide some protection in my Bermuda Triangle of a purse.

I need to seam it, add some kind of a cute button, sew on velcro, and voila! I don't think the colors are bad considering they're from my stash. You may recognize a couple of them from Joe's bag.

I also finished the left front of Chill, but that's boring. I'll put more photos of it up when it's completely finished. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

On the Road Again

Soon I will be leaving lovely Allentown, PA and returning to Boston, MA. What this means is that I will no longer have large chuncks of weekday time to knit :-( and I will have to go back to work :-O! This morning I will just be packing up my car and hoping that there will be no cops on the roads from here to Boston, or at least that if they are around, they won't chose to pull me over. Guess that I will have to be extra careful going through NJ, reminder to self, lighten up on the lead foot!

I got a bit accomplished this week, the knitting on my grandmother's sweater is done, my mother's table runner is done, the front and back of my lace and tuck tunic are finished up to the yoke, and I have finished the first of the embossed leaves sock. I have made the embossed leaves sock using knitpicks Essential sock yarn in cocoa.

About this sock, there are a couple of things that in retrospect I would have changed. The heel is simply stockinette, I think I prefer the look of a heel where on the right side rows you slip every other stitch, creating a pseudo rib. Perhaps I will make that modification to the second sock. Also I think the toe is in the style of a star decrease, which I also don't love, I don't hate it either, but I would consider changing the toe, but wouldn't necessarily make a change. Of course, I could have made either of these changes to the first sock, but I wanted to be true to the pattern to see if there was a reason for the choices made. Overall, I do like the sock, and felt that, at least for me, it knit up quickly. I am considering making the second sock a different color. I don't have the other skein with me, but if you click on the knitpicks essentials link above, I also have the color "fawn" which is more brown than it appears on my monitor, and perhaps on yours as well. The question is, do I want to go traditional with matching color, or be bold and walk around with 2 different shades of brown socks that are a match only by the pattern of stitch used. Please leave me your opinion in the comments. In my next post I will let you know what I have decided.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Stay of Execution

My mom's afghan has been one of those languishing UFO's in my pile. She requested it several months ago and told me what colors she wanted and how it should feel, etc. So I set about looking for the yarn and thought I'd found something perfect. I showed her the yarn and she approved it. It was going to be two different yarns held together. The yarn is very expensive, about $350 retail. After I'd gotten a few inches into it, I wasn't liking how it was turning out at all. The yarns just simply didn't look right. It looked very busy to me. But, nonetheless, I had showed it around to several people, and everyone insisted that it was pretty. I didn't agree, though, so I hadn't worked on it in weeks. I'm like that. If I am not happy with a project, it's nearly impossible for me to finish it, or even make any real progress on it. So, it languished. Fast-forward to Christmas Day. My mom liked her footies, but apparently she expected her afghan as well, even though I'd told her it wouldn't be finished. So, that spurred me on to deal with it yesterday. I went to the Grove to order the rest of the yarn, and it occurred to me that there was a way out of this situation. I could simply just...not make it. The yarn I'd already opened could be used for a scarf or a wrap or something. The rest could be returned, and most of it hadn't been ordered yet anyway. But, first, I figured my mom should look it and tell me if she liked it. So, I dragged it over to her house yesterday, and it turns out I was right. She didn't like it. So, it's a damn good thing I didn't finish it. To tell you the truth, I'm not offended at all. I didn't like it anyway, and I was dreading making it. It feels like I got a stay of execution, or maybe even an outright pardon. She's decided that a knitted afghan is too big of a project and she's decided to buy one instead. Yay!

That leaves quite a large credit for me at the Grove as it turns out. In fact, I had a credit sitting there at the store that I was planning to use for the remainder of the yarn I needed. So, I'm finally going to make the Ombre Alpaca Blanket from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. For myself. That's right folks, I'm a selfish b&$%h and I'm OK with that. The yarn for that project is so expensive, about $300 retail, but with my credit, it suddenly becomes within my reach. I've already bought the first five skeins to get me started.

I've also started my Under the Hoodie. It's a really good carry-along project because it's basically all stockinette. My friend from the Knit Salon, Allison, is also working on hers, so our little knit-along is in progress. I'm doing mine in Cotton-Ease. I'm using Blueberry for the main sections, Ice Blue for the larger stripe and Sugar Plum for the thinner stripe. It's a very fast moving project and I think it's coming out really well. My only concern is that it might be a little too big, but it's a sweatshirt, so it seems like that should be OK.

Just because it was Christmas and all of the stores were closed doesn't mean that I couldn't get into trouble anyway. I bought 8 skeins of this on ebay to make Clapotis. It's Noro Silk Garden in Colorway #8. They retail for around $12 around here, but I got these for $8 each. It's still an expensive wrap, but I think I'll love it so much that it will be worth it. I was going to use the Lion and Lamb that it calls for, but Lorna's Laces yarn only has short bursts of color while Noro has long pieces, so for this fairly wide shawl, there are noticeable stripes. I thought the pattern would work nicely with the stripes from the variegation going one way and the dropped stitches going the other. Can't wait until it gets here, but then again, I'm completely OCD about any yarn I've ordered online. I want the postman to ring my doorbell as soon as my Paypal transaction has gone through. It's coming from the UK, so it will be a long wait.

I put photos of my finished Christmas knitting along with some other FO's in a gallery in the sidebar. All of the gifts went over really well, including the bear. Here is the recipient, clutching it and wearing her Christmas sweater and Marine Corps cap that my husband gave her. That's my mom in the background, by the way.

My brother's socks, although a little loose, basically fit. My dad even seemed to like his scarf and said he'd use it for upcoming trips to the East Coast. Pam, my sister-in-law, liked the purse I made her. Joe has barely taken off his hat since I gave it to him. So, overall, I'd say it was a success.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

After the Rush

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Holiday! I know that I did. My parents gave me Sharon Miller's Heirloom Knitting, I have an Aunt who also knits and she gave me some warm felted slippers.

Mom's present wasn't done for Christmas morning, so I gave it to her and immediately took it right back so that I could finish it. I would have had the knitting done that evening, but we went over to some neighbors for a couple hours and therfore, I didn't finish until the next morning. Actually, I just finished sewing the center closed this morning.

Yesterday we went to visit my mother's mother and father, so I took the opportunity to start my embossed leaves socks. I have 2 out of 3 1/2 repeats done for the first leg. Unfortunately my left wrist was starting to bother me, I think due to the fact that grandmom's sweater was knit continental instead of throwing. Since my wrist was bothering me, I worked a little on my lace and tuck sweater, but only got a couple of rows done, originally I had more done, but I forgot an increase so I had to rip out the approximately 20 rows that I had finished. By the way, this grandmother seemed to like the socks I made for her, and thought they would fit. Sorry the picture is on its side, I apparently forgot to rotate it before I uploaded it.

Finally, my other grandmother's sweater is completely knit, but the finishing hasn't been done yet. I figured that since she blew us off for Christmas, and since I don't know when I will see her, or when my parents will see her, there is no rush to finish it.

Oh, 2 times already this morning, Isis has jumped over the gate "keeping" her upstairs and come down. We let her down here for a bit on Christmas morning and kept Chrissy in the family room, but when the cats saw each other the gate came down and there was hissing and swipping the air between them. Now it is time for hypervigillance. Make it 3 times this morning. I think she is lonely and needs some attention.

Monday, December 26, 2005

New Photo Gallery

I've finally figured how to add to a photo gallery to the sidebar. So far, I've uploaded photos of my cats enjoying their Christmas gifts. Sometime either today or tomorrow, I'm going to try to piece together an FO Gallery so keep checking back if you're interested in seeing that.

If you're interested in doing an Airisaig knitalong, don't forget to vote in the poll from earlier this month. So far, it doesn't look like we have a lot of takers so it probably won't happen unless something changes.

I hope everybody had a safe and happy holiday!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

I'm sure everyone out there will be very busy today, spending the day with family and friends, but in case you pop in to The Purly Gate, I'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas from J and I.

My Christmas knitting is totally done. Fini. I spent yesterday from around 11 a.m. until I had to leave for my parents' house at 4 attempting to do my finishing on Vittadini. It went smoothly, but it just took for damned ever! Even at 4, it wasn't done. In fact, we were supposed to be there at 4, so at 3:41 (whoops), I put it away, got ready to go, and arrived at my parents' a half hour late. Once there, I continued to work on it and FINALLY finished it in time to wear to dinner. Although I was cursing its name all afternoon, and started referring to it with such affectionate names as "the beast" and "this f*&%ing thing", I'd have to say that it came out wonderfully. I'd show a photo, but it's in the room where my husband is sleeping and I don't want to wake him. But I will tell you that it fits really well and I feel that I did a good job on the seaming. For those of you who know me, that's saying a lot because I'm usually highly critical of my seaming work (right J?). I was proud of the final product and wore it out to dinner last night, where it prompty shed silk fibers all over my black pants. That's OK, though, it was still pretty.

So, now it's on to post-Christmas knitting, i.e., Under the Hoodie, Picovoli, Chill, my sock, etc. I'm just about to turn the heel on my sock. About 4 inches in, I switched to my other size 1 needles which have a 2.25 mm diameter. The Addi's have a 2.5 mm diamter. My other needles are bamboo so they're very lightweight and easy to deal with, but obviously, the yarn doesn't slide as easily over them, so there are pros and cons to both. This sock fits VERY snugly. I probably should have done it on size 2's or something but hopefully it will be OK.

As soon as Joe gets up, we're going to give the cats they're Christmas presents. There's nothing like a little catnip in the morning. I'll try to remember to take photos and post them tomorrow.

I have a great new idea for a cat toy - circular knitting needles. My cat Princess thinks that, whenever I pull out my circular needles, I intend to play with her and she runs over to me. If I'm working with them, and one end is dangling down, she bats at it. It's so cute. In this photo, she looks a little bored with it, but that's only because I had taken a few minutes trying to get a good picture of it, and that's about all of the stamina she has for playing. She was tired and needed a nap at that point.

In closing, I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday and that all of their Christmas knitting turned out the way they wanted it to. For my part, I'll be giving the laptop bag, the socks, the scarf, the footies, the bear, the purse, the hat, the catnip toys and the catbed. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Almost There

First, thank you for all the kind words about Chrissy. Her seizure really freaked me out. She has been doing better since then (that is, she hasn't had another seizure). I do have a feeling that this will be her last Christmas, and my last visit with her, which is very sad.

On happier news, I finished the stupid second sleeve! As you can see from this picture there are now 2 sleeves! I also did the collar of the sweater and started sewing the pieces together. Fortunately, K reminded me that you don't have to block woolease, which is what I used for the sweater, so I will just seem and run it through the wash and let it air dry and it will be done. I don't know when I will be seeing the grandmother this is for. We had expected her for Christmas, but she blew us off at the last minute.

Mom's table runner isn't so close to being done. I still have 20 rows to do. My glorious plan of tons of daytime knitting was flawed because it didn't leave room for going to the mall with my brother one day, and Barnes and Noble the next, or room for a 2 hour nap. It is unlikely that I will have the 20 rows done by tomorrow morning, but I will be able to work on it around my mother tomorrow, so with any luck, it will still be done on Christmas. I have made decent progress, but despite the fact that it has only been 2 weeks of working on this, I feel like I have been doing it for ever. I have finished 3 out of the four sections and have two fo the flower motifs basically done.

Finally, to those who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas! To those who celebrate Hanukkah, Happy Hanakkah! To anyone who celbrates something else, Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Laptop bag is finished!

Well, almost. I finished knitting it yesterday, weaved in all of the ends (and there were A LOT), and seamed one side of it. All that's left to do is seam the other side and then I can felt it. I think I'm going to have to use the backstitch to do that because of all of the different colors, but I haven't ever successfully done that stitch before - Yikes! Anyway, I'm going to do all of that this morning. I've already warned my mom that I'll need to use her washing machine. Wanna see some pics? This is one I took before I did any seaming to show the full size. You can't see the numbers on the tape measure, but it shows that the length is 40 inches! Toward the end, it was draping over my legs like a blanket.

Here it is after I seamed up one side of it. To make sure the size was right, I laid the Wacom tablet on top of it. It looks like a good pre-felted size, although felting seems like a bit of a crapshoot to me. We'll see!

As promised, I also have pics of the Feline Dim Sum that I made. They didn't come out looking much like and eggroll and a wanton to me, but I think the catnip inside will be what matters to the kitties.

I used various scrap yarns. You may recognize the Cashmerino Aran from my mom's footies (c'mon, doesn't everybody make their cat toys out of cashmere?) and the yarn I used for the catbed. There's also some Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton that I used to make socks a while back. Only the best for my little hairballs.

After Grumperina waxed poetic about the joy of knitting socks yesterday, she got me itching to start another pair. I had a bit of trouble deciding between my lovely pink Lamb's Pride Wildfoote or my fugly Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, but I decided to go fug. I figured it would be more fun. I also used my metal Addi dpn's for the first time and I positively hate them. They are so heavy and are constantly falling out of the stitches, leaving me to have to carefully put them back on and fix all of the dropped stitches with a crochet hook. I'd switch to my other size 1's if I could, but apprently, Addi's size ones have a different diameter than other size 1's, so I'm stuck with them for now. I know J made a pair of socks where she swtiched to smaller needles at some point in the leg. Maybe I could do that. How far down the leg was that, J? Anyway, isn't the yarn wild? To me, it looks like a box of crayons threw up or a clown exploded or something. Why do I love ugly socks so much? I really don't know, but brown, black and navy blue knitted socks just aren't for me. I'll continue to buy those from the store.

So, an update on Christmas knitting:

Dad's scarf - done!

Joe's hat - done!

Laptop bag - done!

Brother's sock - :( not finished yet. I had a moment of panic yesterday when I realized that I couldn't remember how I'd shaped the toe on the first sock and, of course, I didn't write anything down. We'll see if I can somehow manage to recreate it so it will feel the same. But, with the exception of felting the laptop bag, it's the last thing I have to do! Yay! Well, with the exception of finishing the seaming on Vittadini. Can you believe I'm still working on that?! I hate finishing sweaters, and judging from what I read on other people's blogs, this is a common feeling. However, I set in one sleeve yesterday, so all that's left is to set in the other sleeve and do the neck extensions. Boy, I sure know how to bring something down to the wire. The knitting for this sweater was finished weeks ago. My deadline is Christmas Eve. Wish me luck! Good luck to everyone out there who is still working on their Christmas knitting. Allison, if you're reading this, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

Note: I almost forgot to mention - I've discovered Bloglines! What a great service. Now I don't have to constantly check and recheck my favorite blogs to see if they've been updated. I'm sure that it's not news to most of you, but I was pretty excited. I added a Subscribe with Bloglines button to our sidebar in case anyone wants to add us to their favorites or try out the service for themselves.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Still Not Done

Well, I made it to PA. I was pulled over for speeding about 5 miles from the PA border, in New Jersey. I had apparently been doing 85 mph. I had realized I was going that fast, 80, yes. Fortunately the state trooper was in the holiday spirit and gave me a warning instead of a ticket. I didn't try to talk my way into the warning or show any cleavage, the guy just was a good man. It probably doesn't hurt that my last speeding tickets were over 5 years ago (2 tickets, on in CT then one in NY, same trip, same day). Isis has settled into her temporary digs well. She has to stay up stairs, my parents' cat gets the first floor, but Isis seems to be a bit lonely.

I was apparently over optimistic in my hopes that my grandmother's sleeve would be done. It isn't, it is a bit longer, but not really picture worthy. My mom's dinner runner is at row 75, but again not picture worthy. I do still beleive that everything will be done on time, especially since my grandmother will not be joining us on Christmas day.

Finally, Chrissy, my parents' cat. Chrissy is about 20 years old. We got her as a kitten, she was the runt of the litter, I was in 6th or 7th grade. I could practically hold her in the palm of one hand when we got her. I can remember the one, and only time, my mother and I gave her a flee bath (she was an in door-out door cat). When we took her out of the sink where we were bathing her she looked like a dark Grover from Sesame Street. She bit onto my arm, hard and wouldn't let go during her bath. We also had a dog, a Siberian Husky, Czar (female, so truly Czarina). Czar was unwell and limped when she got old, but even so, if Czar walked anywhere near Chris, even if Czar was completely uninterested in Chris, Chrissy would still reach out a front paw and wap Czar on the nose. Now Chrissy is really unwell. She is only about 6 lbs, scrawny, emaciated looking. She doesn't groom herself well, and she can't really stand to be brushed. Chrissy wobbles when she walks and doesn't really move around much. Worse of all though, last night she had a seizure. She was lying on a cushion and she started convulsing. It seemed to go on forever. When it finally stopped my mother held her for a little bit as she looked all around, clearly disoriented. She didn't want to be held. She didn't want to lie on her bed, she didn't want to lie on the floor. Fortunately she could stand. My mom told me this happened 2x before and afterwards she couldn't stand, so this is something of an improvement. Unfortunately what she did while standing was to walk in circles. First she circled a leg on our coffee table, then I tried holding her a bit, but she fought me a little on that so I let her down again, but she still was walking in circles. My mom held her, then after a bit let her down again, she was still walking in circles. She lay down on my foot, but when she got up, still the f*ing circles. Finally after lying some more, she was able to walk, in a wavey line back to her bed. I think we all know that it is time to put her down, but none of us can really stand the thought. I took this picture of her today lying on her bed (really a couple of cushions from some outdoor chairs). I debated with myself before taking it, this isn't the Chrissy I want to remember. Sorry for rambling.
I was going to end there, but I got up to get a tissue, and Chrissy was looking at me, I think she saw that I was crying but perhaps I am imaginin that. Anyway she stood up and was looking like she was going to walk over to me, so I went over to her and started petting her, she started purring for me, so at least she still finds reasons to purr.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Grumperina's Meme

I was just catching up on my blogging from yesterday, and I thought Grumperina posed an excellent question that deserved a post here (in addition to my other post from today - below).

Most of my friends don't knit, although obviously, J does, seeing as we have a blog together! I taught my friend Holly to knit, and although she does it occasionally, it certainly hasn't become an addiction for her like it has for me. She doesn't know about my blog, although she might occasionally check it out if she did.

My sister-in-law doesn't knit and I think she thinks it's silly. She does know about the blog, but to my knowledge, has never looked at it. The vast majority of family doesn't care about it either and they think knitting is silly and antiquated. Case in point - my dad brought my felted cat bed to me at our company Christmas party and I asked him to bring it inside. He asked, "You're not embarrassed?" I don't know, maybe I should have been. I work at an engineering firm, a highly male-dominated office, but because I'm surrounded by men constantly, I feel that preserving my femininity is crucial. I don't want to basically be a man with boobs just by virtue of my choice of profession. With the exception of my job, I'm all girl.

My mom hasn't taken any interest in my knitting, although I think she's starting to more and more as she finds out about all of the people she knows who knit (she didn't know before). Also, I've impressed her friends with knitted gifts at baby showers, and her sister and two sisters-in-law also knit, so she's surrounded. Although I wouldn't call her a "modern woman" (she was a stay-at-home mom), many things about her are distinctly modern and she eschews most things domestic, i.e. sewing, knitting, cleaning, etc. She is, however, an EXCELLENT cook, and she takes good care of my father, who needs it.

My husband obviously knows I knit, as he is forced to live with hundreds of skeins of yarn and dozens of finished and unfinished projects in our 800 sq. ft. condo. He is somewhat impressed, but doesn't take much interest in it.

My friend Kelly has no interest either, although she has a close friend up by her in San Francisco who is a knitter. In her defense, Kelly has tried it and said she was "no good" at it. She always asks, "Are you still into knitting?" as if it's a phase and something that will wane one day. She doesn't know about the blog and I doubt she'd take an interest in it.

Amber, my friend in Scotland, saw me knitting a pair of socks on her last US trip, and she herself has, in the past, taken an interest in crochet, but has displayed no interest in knitting. Oh well. That's why I have you guys! And my friends at the Grove!

First Day of Winter

I'm sure those of you in Boston are thinking, "If 3 degrees ain't winter, then what season is it?" However, even if the weather doesn't cooperate, winter officially begins today. What does that mean for those of us in San Diego? Well, considering it was over 80 degrees yesterday in parts of the County, not much. However, it does mean that I had a heck of a time getting decent photographs because the sun is so low in the sky, today being the shortest day of the year and all. So, be prepared, all of the pictures are bad.

Christmas progress:

Dad's scarf - blocking
Joe's bag - see sidebar
Brother's sock - not finished
Flower washcloth - ends weaved in and on its way to its destination
In-laws' gifts - currently en route to Chicago
Joe's hat - almost done
Feline Dim Sum - one almost done, another in progress (photos on Friday)

I think that's everything, not including projects that were done ages ago. Anyway, here are some photos of my dad's scarf. The first one is of it blocking. I actually took the photo diagonally across it, so it's not that it's wide at one end and skinny at the other. I was just trying to get the entire scarf in the picture.

Here is my attempt to get a close shot of the pattern, not terribly successfully.


Pattern: Men's Cashmere Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

Yarn: Decadence from Knitpicks in Tan (1.5 skeins)

Overall, my review of the yarn is pretty good. It definitely feels soft to the touch, but it has a mild itchiness to it. It's not really enough to avoid it, but it's definitely NOT cashmere. The color is drab, but since this scarf is for my father, I think it will be good. I chose it to go with his navy blue Burberry raincoat. To me, the color looks like the beige that Burberry uses for its linings, so it should match fairly well.

Finally, I made a shopping trip to Knitting in La Jolla yesterday. I went up there to try and find more Debbie Bliss Soho in the colorway I'm using for Joe's hat. Bear in mind that I bought this yarn a year ago. I figured it was a long shot at best to find it, but my best bet was going to the shop where I originally bought it. Well, she still carries the yarn, but apparently in every colorway but this one. I started digging through the bin to see if there was one stuck in the back, but all of the yarn starting falling onto the floor, so I just asked Suzanne if she had any more. She didn't have any additional bags in her backstock (although she had entire bags of every other color!). Despondent, I began picking out a coordinating shade of Manos de Uruguay (the two yarns are very similar in weight and feel) when I figured I'd take one last shot. Way in the back was ONE more ball! I quickly grabbed it and ran to the register. As I was bending down to pick up something I'd knocked over near the register, I saw this:

As many of you know, a black sheep tape measure from Lantern Moon is very difficult to find because there's only one in every bag. Here he is posing in my Dickens village. Anyway, my trip to Knitting in LJ was VERY successful.

Must get back to knitting! Don't forget to vote for the Airisaig knitalong if you haven't done so already. The poll is in Monday's post.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Harmony in Two Parts

A. Staving off the Madwoman Within

If the calendar is right, and I have no reason to doubt it, then the Holidays are almost upon us. Time for eggnog, mistletoe, mind numbing and continuous carols, etc. I worked in retail a decade ago, and the anti-Carol effect appears to be permanent. So how does one stay sane this time of year? I guess it helps to start of sane in the first place, but if that fails, the best thing to do is to go out frequently when you should be knitting those last minute gifts. An amazing, if illusory, feeling of peace and the belief that somehow the knitting fairies will descend, or that your cat will take up knitting while at work descends and all will be well.

So far though, Isis shows no signs of being able to knit. Amazingly she hasn't even shown much interest in my yarn, she has occasional spurts of going for my yarn, but she would rather just sit on my lap and support me by purring... or snoring.

This past weekend has been a very busy one for me. It has been a good sort of busy though. On Friday my office had it's party/open house. At which I received 2 gifts from colleagues (not part of our firm), a 2002 Pinot Noir, and a very thoughtful basket which contained chocolate, and other goodies, for me, and a kitty toy and kitty treats for Isis. By the time I got home though, not much knitting was done. Still no start on that stupid second sleeve, and the yarn for dad's scarf still hadn't miraculously appeared.

On Saturday I buy ingredients, then bake 6 dozen cookies. While it was only one type, I had forgotten how long baking takes. My cookie batter gave me 5 1/4 dozen cookies, I needed 6 doz, no time left though on Saturday to bake, I had to run off to A Good Yarn to buy some Rowan Chunky Tweed to make my Dad's scarf. Emily came with me and after we fondled some yarns we headed over to the Boston BeanStock where we met up with some fellow N.End knitters and made our way to the InQ Bistro for the kpixie trunk show. After pursuing the selection at the trunk show we settled in for some martinis, appetizers, and knitting. I managed to start dad's scarf (but not the second sleeve)

On Sunday, it was back to baking as I wiped together a second batch of cookies, despite being short on several ingredients. Then Emily and I went to Vega Planet, in Harvard Square, for a delicious vegetarian brunch. They even had guitar music playing while we ate. Then it was back to my place for continued crunch knitting. Then I had to package the cookies and run (or take the T more accurately) out to Newton for a cookie swap. While on the T dad's scarf was finished. (Yeah! One down 2 to go) During the cookie swap I pulled out some size 6 needles and cast on for grandmom's second sleeve. (Yippee!) I feel less stressed merely by starting the damned thing. On the T ride home I continued knitting. Now I think the sleeve will be my commuting project (because with one bus ride left before I head to PA, I have oh so very much commuting time), and the table runner my at home project.

B. A Christmas Miracle

Last night I made the greatest discovery in knitting history! Okay, perhaps not in history, but this week! (in my building) No, Isis still isn't knitting. In a strange case of knitting dyslexia, it turns out the Table Runner isn't 150 rows wide but only 105 rows wide, okay you got me again, it is 106, I didn't read the full pattern when first looking at it. This means that row-wise I am over half way done since I have finished 66 rows!
My next post will hopefully have a finished grandmom's sweater and will be coming at you live from lovely Allentown, PA (or close to it anyway). Don't worry I won't make you cringe with any attempted knock-off of Billy Joel's Allentown.

Airisaig knitalong anyone?

Yesterday, I decided to do a search on the Internet to look at photos of people's completed Airisaig sweaters. All I could find was about 2 inches of progress on one sleeve that someone had posted. So, it got me thinking, perhaps people would be interested in a knitalong. In January, I'm going to be making Picovoli and Under the Hoodie (also an informal knitalong if anyone's interested), so this project would probably get started in February or March. Please take the poll to let us know if you'd be interested in doing it. I'll close the voting on January 1 and post the results.

Do you want to participate in a knitalong for Airisaig?


Free polls from

In other news, I've made decent progress on Joe's laptop bag. I'm posting my progress in the sidebar. Basically I've got a status bar for what I should have knitted by today and what I actually have knitted. The knitting has to be completed by Thursday, so the race is on! A friend from the Knit Salon is making the alpaca throw from Last Minute Knitted Gifts for her husband, and she's in a similar boat because it's a surprise, so it's nice to have someone suffering through this with me. Her project is, obviously, much more enormous and, by the way, $380 retail! Can you believe that?! I wanted to make that throw, but I don't know now. Maybe if I bought the yarn in small batches.

I also decided to start another hat for Joe to use up some stash yarn. I knit him a scarf in this yarn last winter when he was in Iraq, and I had a ball leftover. It's right up his alley, too, considering he's a marine. The scarf was seriously fugly, because it was seed stitch and this yarn (Soho by Debbie Bliss) is WAY too busy for that stitch. However, in stockinette stitch, it looks amazingly like a pair of cami's. Joe will probably look really cool wearing this around the base. He tried it on last night and it fits nice and snug (yay!) so, if I don't run out of yarn, this should become a favorite.

Don't forget to vote about the knitalong (and let me know if anyone wants to make Under the Hoodie - that will start in Jan.)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Third Time's a Charm

I got the felted catbed from my parents on Friday and the sides were really floppy and couldn't stand up on their own. I think I mentioned that it had come out too big - 2 inches actually - so I figured that it probably hadn't finished felting. It had already gone through two cycles, so I decided to do a third cycle. I had previously been told that once a felted object dries, it cannot be felted again, but I figured I'd try it anyway. The picture on the left is how it looked before I did any felting, and the picture on the right is how it looks now, after 3 cycles. It shrunk those extra two inches in diameter, and I think the edges will stay up on their own. I had the impression that they'd be stiff, but they're not, so either I didn't use thick enough yarn or they just aren't stiff, period. Anyway, I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and I'm sure the cats will enjoy it too. I'll take some Christmas photos of them enjoying all of their gifts.

Well, yesterday I spent ALL day cleaning, shopping and cooking for a fondue dinner party that I had last night. My entire body is wrecked, so today, I plan on doing nothing but knit. I'm going to go to the Grove in the late morning and probably spend all day there. I'm sure there'll be people there working on last-minute stuff. If you're a San Diego knitter, maybe I'll see you there!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Ticking Clock

I know it's not news to anybody, but did you know that Christmas is 9 days away?! Apparently, it's on the 25th this year. I just realized this today! I was completely shocked. Yet here I was, earlier today, knitting myself a pair of wrist warmers, with a whole pile of Christmas knitting sitting on the floor waiting to get done. Hello? You know that laptop case I mentioned in a previous post that I intended to secretly knit for my husband? Yeah, hadn't even started it. My dad's scarf? 1/2 done. My in-law's scarves? Done but unblocked (can you really send a Branching Out scarf to your mother-in-law unblocked?) and without the ends weaved in. They live in Chicago, so this is going to involve the good ol' USPS. My brother's socks? Not done. And they still need to be washed. Yikes!

Even though I had read blog after blog after blog about people's Christmas traumas, I had felt relatively unaffected. That is, until I realized that my husband's laptop case is 92 stitches wide and 40 inches long, unfelted. That's, like, more than 1/2 of a sweater! That doesn't include felting time! Are ya kidding me? I'm not a half-finished Christmas gift kind of gal, and I can assure you that my husband wouldn't appreciate it, either, especially if everyone else's gifts are done. So, the way I figure it, I need to have it done by next Friday at the latest, Thursday if possible so I can felt it and give it to him on Sunday. That's 7 days, and at 40 inches, that's roughly 6 inches per day. Of course, it's a surprise, so the weekend gets tricky, but lucky me, the Grove is having a get-together on Sunday for everyone to come down and work on their last-minute Christmas knitting. I figured that since I started around September, I'd be done by now - ummm, oh well. Anyway, so far, it looks like I've done 9 inches, and I just started today, so hopefully, it will all work out.

Tonight, at the Knit Salon, Cora, from my Baby Bobbi Bear class, brought her finished bear in. Luckily I brought my camera, so I got a photo. Here he is, the cutie and his mommy:

Oh, and those wrist-warmers? Well, those got done.

I just have to say that, although Kid Classic is a beautiful-looking yarn, it feels absolutely terrible. I know there are lots of knitters out there who love this stuff, but I can't for the life of me understand why. It's fairly rough and the itch factor is huge. On my arms, it can't do too much damage, although if I'm wearing them when it's not cold, my arms start tingling and they feel like I'm scraping them with sandpaper. Regardless, ain't these purty?

Happy Christmas knitting!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

No clever title for today

Hello everyone. It is absolutely freezing here. The kind of cold that sucks the years right off your life. The kind of cold that makes you just want to stay curled up under your flannel sheets, in bed. A lousy day for waiting for a bus and commuting to work via public transportation. The worse part of this cold is that it isn't even officially winter yet, so I am a bit afraid of what this will mean for the months ahead.

Apparently my brain has decided to begin its vacation a week before my body does. I own a car, which I leave at work, rather than parking in the city. I need to use my car today for work. I have brilliantly managed to leave my only car key in my apartment, in the city, now I am going to have to borrow my boss's Volvo, lucky me.

Enough with the babbling, here is some knitting news:
I have already fallen behind on my table runner schedule. I wanted to do 10 rows a day, so I should be at row 50, instead I am only at row 41. I am not actually panicking yet though. I do have a large chunk of time on Saturday, while I am baking 6 dozen cookies (1 flavor only, for a cookie swap) and in the evening when I go over to Circles. On Saturday I will also be going to A Good Yarn and buying the yarn to make my dad's scarf, which should take no time to do, and going to the kpixie trunk show, which should be fun. Sunday Emily and I are going to brunch and knitting (though probably not both at the same time), so that should be another large chunk of knitting time. Oh, I have to buy my grandfather a gift, and both partners at my firm ones too...guess I will do that Saturday somehow.

I have finished the navy blue ribbed socks I was making and given them to the recipient, they fit him! Yeah! No picture of that though, sorry, but they were only plain boring navy ribbed socks, not really picture worthy.

Finally, before I bought my mother's yarn I managed to get done the back of my Lace and Tuck Sweater up to where the yoke starts (it is on a stitch holder for now) and I have gotten a good bid of the front done as well. This sweater seems to be knitting up very fastly. It is also very open, so clearly will have to be worn over a shell of some sort.

I guess that is all the news that fit to print (or not fit to print) for now. Have a good one!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Does anyone else out there think this pattern is as cute as I do? It's called "Something New for Madeline" and it's from the Winter 01/02 issue of Interweave Knits. I have had the pattern for a while and I'm absolutely chomping at the bit to make it for my neice, Savannah who, by the way, is currently 3 months old and cannot yet speak never mind read Madeline books. Who knows if she'll even be interested in Madeline? Does it matter really? Undoubtedly, I'll knit this for her anyway.

Speaking of Savannah, I did a marathon shopping trip with my mom yesterday, and ended up buying a store-bought 100% cotton sweater for her for Christmas. I know, I should hang my head in shame, but the way she's growing lately, I just can't bear to spend the time making her a sweater only to see her in it once before she's too big for it. So, here it is. I thought it was precious, even if I did buy it at Mervyn's (she's even growing too fast for a store-bought sweater from Nordstrom).

So, where's the knitting? Hmmm, where is that darn knitting? Well, did I mention my shopping trip? So, not much to show you, but here are some ugly photos of Birch, if you're interested.

This is my rather unsuccessful attempt to uncurl my Inox needles (and J says they don't curl...ha!). So basically you can't see anything, but I will tell you that this is 1 ball of kidsilk haze. The entire shawl is only supposed to take 3 balls, so I guess I'm 33% done. It only got me through 5 repeats, but that makes sense because the same amount of yarn should get me through the next 10 repeats (1/2 as many stitches) and the last ball of yarn should get me through 15 repeats (1/2 as many stitches again), getting me to a total of 30. Slow but steady wins the race. Here's a closer pic of the motif. I couldn't get a good photo on a light background, so I draped it over my leg, hence the feeling you're getting that you're looking at it through a keyhole. Lace always looks crappy before blocking so it looks like knotted green linguini that's been sitting in the pasta pot overnight.

Hope everyone's holiday knitting is going well. I myself am doing a little bit of cramming, BUT, I did felt the catbed last night! It's drying at my parents' condo, but I'll have a pics in a couple of days. It's soooo cute, even if it's too big. My cats are rather "generously proportioned" (at least that's how the vet put it), so it should be OK. Toodles!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Pressure (to the tune of Billy Joel's Pressure) I think you may be able to hear the song through this site.

I’ve got to learn to plan ahead
I’m just like everybody else
I have very much to knit
And purl
Now I’ve come to a date
where the only thing I feel
Are loaded guns in my face
And I have to deal with

I started so far in advance
But I still cannot avoid
Knitting for Christmas seemed such a good idea
It was a sincere, heartfelt
Gesture, so pure and Good
I have no time to finish
And I can not handle

All stressed out with too much to knit
Knit 1, Purl 2
I should just quit
All this month is last minute gifts
For my family
Can I get done ?

(I won’t be done)

Blocking, weaving
What did I think ?
My mind was so gone
That much was clear

I am sure I had some cosmic rationale
Now here it is twelve days left
One sleeve, collar, and much more to go
How can I hope to finish?
Knit fast, stay up all night?

Scarf for my dad, yarn not yet bought
I am a nut
What have I thought?

Started lace table runner Saturday
It was a a sincere and heart felt
gesture, so pure, and good
I have no time to finish
And I cannot handle
One, two, three, four