29 May 2006

Let the Summer Begin

How appropriate to get your first farmer tan of the season on Memorial Day. What may not be so seasonally appropriate is to finish the knitting on a wool scarf. I'll post a proper summation after I weave in the ends and block it a bit, but just had to share the fun of beading and profess my love of Karabella Aurora 8. If you're shopping for a yarn splurge, you've gotta try this stuff.

There's a great article here which talks about plies and gives a good picture of the yarn. There have been reports in the blogosphere about pilling, but I've been dragging around this stupid scarf for years (no, I'm not exaggerating) as well as pulling the beads over the yarn and so far, it looks great. We'll see how it wears, but I definitely think it's worth its price tag.

Well, we'll see how it wears when it gets cold enough for scarves again. In Buffalo, that may be later this week.

Oh, and beading... the jury is still out. It produces a great result, but it's fiddly. You have to move the beads down the yarn with every row and when you're a glutton for punishment and decide to do beads down the entire length of a scarf, well, let the tedium begin. I know there are various ways to attach the beading, but I prefer to string them all on my yarn and then bring one up to the stitch where I'm going to place it. Again, this was a class I took and never finished the project. There's a reason why I haven't signed up for classes this spring! I still have several unfinished class projects on deck. We won't talk about this as a sort of bad student fantasy where I'm pretending to not do my homework for once in my life.

One good thing about all these classes (except for the money my credit card companies make) is coming home with lots of tips that aren't really related to the specific project. It's hard to see in the picture, but our teacher told us to use the plastic clips from bread packaging as mini-bobbins to wind up the excess from your miscalculated long-tail cast on. It keeps the tail from getting tangled in your yarn until you have a chance to weave it in.

As with all crafty supplies, I started collecting those little tabs and passed the word along to others to collect for me. I'm pretty sure I have enough tabs for the entire knit-blogging world. Let me know if you need a couple!


I just realized that I've been blogging for nearly a year with a misspelling in my blog description. And I wrote the word twice. So two big ol' black eyes for me...

Yeah, and I want to get a Ph.D. in English. This is not a good sign.

27 May 2006

Slow and Steady

So I got stuck in a snow drift, and spent the last week digging myself out...

No, I just spent way too many hours writing on this contraption of a machine and couldn't bear to type anything else, witty or otherwise. So, I'm back and hopefully I'll have some things to post as several projects are nearing completion. (I did play with my template a bit and put in links to my 2006 projects. Some of them actually work! Still working on the others... Oh, and I found a great template design that I want to use, but yeah, no luck there. Blogging is great when it works, but when it doesn't...)

Anyway, I've also been working on my Amazing Lace introduction and I may need to do some playing with PhotoShop at the office. Why can't I make these things simple? At least Lara has stopped smelling like a wet dog long enough for me to do some seaming. Not that my knitting tips are really helpful or anything, but lessons I've learned over the past few sweaters:

Use lots and lots of safety pins. And then add a few more pins just to be sure.

Keep Stitch and Bitch handy. I've got several guides to the knitting and this is the one I go back to for an easy reference on all the basics, like the difference between mattress stitch and joining the tops of knitting together in the fake grafting method.

What you can't see in this picture is a super dooper cup 'o joe that keeps me going. Oh, and the patience to only do a few inches before going onto something else. I'm slowly learning that I do better working, knitting, writing, and so on in small doses. Once my attention is wandering, best to pick up another project rather than dawdling over a task and getting sloppy. So I seam to the next safety pin and head back to the computer.

Anyway, have a good holiday weekend. Hope everyone's summer is off to a good start!

21 May 2006


People think I'm kidding when I say that it can snow in Buffalo in May... the end of May, to be precise. But in trying to improve our image, they give the offical forecast as "rainy, cloudy, windy," but in the "Special Weather Statement," it gets spelled out a little more clearly:


Well, now, isn't that special? (I'll let you insert your own Dana Carvey impression there.)

And just for the record, what the h*** is a Special Weather Statement? You just want to sucker punch us by putting the blinking message at the top of our website when we log in to figure out what to wear to work on Monday morning? The fools don't check the Special Statement and think Armegeddon is coming when they get snow on their lunchbreak, but the smart and curious ones get to spend all Sunday evening in a funk because of your Specialness?

Of course, being a knitter, I could combat these wet snows (grrr) with a new wool sweater had I been able to seam up my finished Lara this weekend. But she is stanky, major nasty wet animal stanky. I put her down on the bed for a little blockaroo, and had to open the windows because I thought a whole herd had taken residence in there. And I'm a farm girl, people, I've had a little experience with stanky animals.

The p.u. factor goes a little something like this:

1 the daily dump of doo on my sidewalk every morning from a neighbor's pup

3 Saturday morning farm auctions downwind from the Amish farmers who haven't showered since last Saturday night

5 the chicken building on a hot August afternoon when I'm ticked off that my little brother wouldn't gather the eggs no matter how much I offered to buy him off

7 the pig lot when the lagoons would turn over (or unsettle or gurgle up or whatever they did) (For the city readers, this is a bad thing, I won't even try to explain for fear of wounding you for life. Let's just say that this lagoon is definitely not the kind a younger Brooke Shields would jump in for some hanky panky. )

9 my new sweater

Right now I've banished the untouchable item to a plastic bag with a stack of dryer sheets. Eucalan wasn't making a dent on the olfactory offenses here. I'm just hoping that the candles in the bedroom will eliminate enough of the funk so I can sleep. Maybe the frigid temps will dull the nose nerves as well since the window's been cracked all day.

And just to add insult to injury, I decided on a smoothie (well, truth to be told, a good old-fashioned milkshake) for dinner and my blender burnt up. Right now, I'm enjoying the stench and heat of a burnt out motor as a welcome respite to animal planet in my living room.

I'm going to go hide under a big blanket and knit something simple and odorless. And that's news worthy of a Special Statement.

15 May 2006

Fair Isle Felting

After reading that last post I feel like a big ol' whiner. Just my painfully slow thought process put out there on the Internet. Overall, I'm generally well-adjusted and play well with others, and yes, I realize they're just knitalongs, not nearly so serious as running off and joining the Peace Corp or anything (which I haven't done... yet... I'll warn you when I do, mom!). I also feel like a greedy little pig with the trekking yarn. I didn't mean to be asking for it, SP, just trying to think through buying it. Of course, if you'd happen to be at a store and buying it for yourself... ;)

Anyway, onto the knitting. I'm 3 inches away from finishing the knitting on Lara. That's a sweater finished the same calendar year I started. Sometimes I shock myself. Of course, I'm sure I'll let it sit around for awhile before I actually seam it.

I did manage to felt the fair isle bag that I finished. Loads of pics because it's bright and I don't know what to do with this much color in my knitting basket!

Pre-felting pic for comparison. Thought I'd put something familiar in there for reference. This also shows the difference in tension between the top motif and the bottom. No, I didn't loosen up at all!

This is actually my favorite section... on the bottom of the bag. The stripes are very easy and I could see doing a whole bag out of just this.

This is the bottom motif. Since you felt it and then line the bag, no need to weave in the ends, just tie 'em off. I like that kind of finishing.

Here she is drying over a box. I was able to pull the sides fairly square but the top curled because it didn't felt as much as the rest since this is two layers thick (to insert the drawstring when all is said and done). I may felt this one again since it's a little larger than I intended. I'm thinking I'll do a lining with a long strap to use this as a bookbag, because you know a girl's gotta have her books!

Lone Knitter asked about the fair isling and I'll give all the pattern details as soon as I decide how I want to finish it off. I wish I could give you a nifty book to teach yourself, but I needed a human teacher on this one. I took several classes last fall on it and it was nice to get an introduction, then have time to practice, then go back to correct all the mistakes I was making. I don't think I could figure out hand positions for this on my own, but that's just me and my learning style. I know there are others that have been able to look at a few pictures and zoom away with their first sweater. Not this knitter, though! And felting is definitely the way to go on on a first fair isle project. My tension was all over the place on this one and that magic washing machine just took care of it! Don't we all wish we could wash out all our problems and tension that easily!

13 May 2006

Can I Play?

I feel a bit like the dorky kid on the playground who has to ask to be included in the game of tag. I know that knitalongs aren’t really like that, but somehow when I go through the process of asking to join something, I start getting all those kickball reject feelings again. What if they don’t like me? What if they won’t let me play? Even worse, what if they make me play in the infield and I take one right in the smacker? I guess somewhere my brain says, “If you were really cool, you wouldn’t have to ask to play. Your presence would be assumed.” No, I don’t have any issues.

Part of my hesitation with knitalongs* has been my own scheduled knitting and the rules I try to impose about finishing projects before I start new ones. I think to really get into the knitalong you need to jump right in in the beginning when everyone is hot and heavy about the project. I seem to be about three years behind. Knitting Lara now? Most knitters have been there, done that and are already having to darn their sweaters from excessive wear.

Then there’s the pressure of having to finish during the time allotted, something I don’t really do so well at. We don’t need to go into my relationship to deadlines; it’s not pretty. I really surprised myself with finishing my Knitting Olympic socks on time. I’ve got enough stress about deadlines outside my knitting, why add more?

Really, I think I haven’t done them before mainly due to my ever so slight independent streak. Okay, maybe slight isn’t the best choice of words. I’ve been told that “Do it self.” was either my first sentence or my favorite sentence, probably both. (Sorry I was such a brat, Mom. Sorry I still am such a brat, Mom!) I suppose that the independent streak and the dorky kid factor probably go together. “Fine, I don’t care that I’m not cool enough for your slumber party. I’d rather be by myself with a book anyway. So there.” Yeah, really, no issues.

Well, wild and crazy things are happening here because I didn’t just start lurking on a knitalong, I threw myself into two of them!

The Amazing Lace

I really like the challenges aspect of this one and I can even fulfill my goal of finishing things since I have two lace projects on the needles right now. I owe my aunt a finished stole from last Christmas and last summer I started designing a lace sweater for myself adapted from several patterns. I’d really like to do a Kiri shawl as well, but I’m going to stick to trying to finish these two things. It will be interesting to see what they have us do for the challenges so I like the mystery of it all. Lace is one of those things that I’d like to do more of so I’m sure I’ll get tons of great ideas from this one.

Trek Along

This one poses a challenge of a different sort. See, I don’t actually have any of this yarn… yet. Do I break the yarn diet (really, more of a fast)? It’s been hinted that I may be getting some gift certificates from yarn stores for my birthday, but do I wait until the end of June to get started? Again, I love the idea of trekking and picture taking with knitting. This morning I had to go on a cream cheese run (quite an oops when I woke up and realized I had yummy bagels but nothing to spread on them) and I started thinking about how much I like to start my day with a little walk around the ‘hood. I do like hiking too and there are some great trails around here that I’ve never really explored. There could be pictures of the urban landscape around here and then the natural ones in the nearby parks. So… I’m signing up on faith that I’ll have trekking yarn either of my own volition or from friends. Really, this would be a pretty good reason to break the fast anyway. I was planning to buy some of this stuff as one of my first purchases anyway. I’ll just bump it up to June rather than waiting until Rhinebeck.

Okay, that’s probably enough group play for this blogger for now. If only signing up for
dissertation-alongs was as much fun!

*I keep writing kingalongs for some strange reason… waaaaaay too much time thinking about British aristocracy, methinks.

11 May 2006

A Little Spring Color

Since we're at the start of a long rainy patch, I thought I'd share some pics of color, some that I took outside yesterday and some of a project that I decided to pick up again.

Last fall I took my first class in fair isle knitting and we made a bag from an old IK. Of course I never finished it while in the class and then the holidays struck and basically, it got shoved in the corner and lower on the WIP list. I dug it out today to get a break from Lara and finished the knitting. I'm not sure why I let it linger so long since I really only had about an hour of knitting left on it. Granted, the finishing process on this one will take a bit, but hopefully I'll have a new bag by Monday!

10 May 2006

I Made Something Out of It

I did a post back in October about our family motto, "I'm gonna make somethin' out of that!" It's pretty much a generic excuse any time you want to add to the crafty stash, do some dumpster diving or go on an all out thrift store/auction/rummage sale binge. No matter what piece of crap you pick up, you can always make something out of it.

Well, hold your hats, ladies, I actually made something out of one of my purchases. This may be shocking, but I cut into three fat quarters last weekend. I think I've also talked about fat quarters before, but since I know I have a few non-sewing friends who read this, fat quarters are 18x22" pieces of fabric that you can collect, much like sock yarn. Only they're worse because you can usually find them on sale for $1 so you can easily justify a whole big bag of them. Anyway, last summer I picked up three of these little gems and added them to the fabric stash and I actually took them out and cut them up. They only marinated for nine months. Shocking, no?

Saucy Little Summer Bag
Pattern: Simplicity Bags Sewing Patterns for Dummies 4670, View C
Materials: metal handles for JoAnn's Clearance aisle, fabric from the stash - outside is a heavier decorator fabric, inside and tops are quilting fabric
Dates: 6-7 May 2006
Recipient: Greedy little me
Notes: I pretty much made the bag as stated in the pattern, although I made some mistakes in reading the pattern, of course. Guess that means I'm not fully ready for Patterns for Dummies yet. The handles are a little larger than called for which may be why the top was a little difficult to sew. That and I couldn't figure out how to put my zipper foot on the new machine, yeah, dummy, I know. Anyway, great bag for summer. It's big enough to fit a file folder with the latest draft of your diss chapter and a small book. Of course, I don't read small books and I'm certainly not going to walk around with a big ol' copy of Thackeray in there, but theoretically it could work. So far I like the metal handles and can fit them over my arm but we'll see what happens when it gets a little warmer and those puppies are less than pleasant to the touch.

Wouldn't that circle fabric be the perfect lining the Wobbly Circles Tote from Spring 06 IK that's popular now? And you know, if I would just hurry up and finish my fair isle bag, I have leftover yarn that would work... because I need a new project and all...

09 May 2006

Memory Lapse

Do you ever have one of those moments where you forget a word? You’re going to say something and then, in a flash, it’s gone. But the thing is, you’ve already started the sentence, you’re in the groove, and then you’re stuck. You can’t just skip it, can’t just improvise. You have to devote every ounce of mental fortitude toward getting that word.

Yesterday while my students struggled through their final exam, I was editing some diss writing. And then I lost my word.

I wonder what the students would’ve thought had they known that their esteemed leader (sarcasm, sarcasm) was throwing all her brain power toward coming up with the word “hookah.”

I almost giggled when I finally thought of it. Hookah, yeah, that’s it. Look at them all squirm while I’m thinking of hookah. That’s why I’m the teacher. The privileges of the big desk and meditating on hookahs…

I’ve never tried a hookah, but if my schedule stays like this, I just might experiment in the name of research. I have pics to show and crafty projects that are actually complete, but I don’t think I have the brain power left to operate my camera. Gotta think about the important things, you know. I may work up to crack pipes and snort mirrors by the end of the week.

07 May 2006

It's All About the Gear

When I was little I had to wear orthopedic shoes. Big, brown and very, very ugly. Mom always tried to make them better by letting me put cool shoelaces in them. I remember having a pair that were marked like rulers. Oh yeah, I was the height of 2nd grade hipness with those, let me tell ya.

Well, now that I’m all grown up (sorta), I can wear whatever footsies float my boat, usually meaning whatever footsies I found on the clearance rack. But dear readers, the clearance rack done me wrong.

A few weeks ago I was pretty stoked to score a pair of Saucony running shoes for around 35 smackers. And they were pink! Score!

Well, then I tried to actually run in those sweet sneaks. I made it 15 minutes before I had to hobble home. I’m certainly no long-distance superstar (yet), but 15 minutes and giving up? Not good. Perseverance is my strong suit (sometimes) so I gave them another chance at my aerobics class. They lasted 20 minutes this time before I had to bench them in favor of my worn out, stinky shoes waiting on the sidelines.

So Friday I went in search of the summer sneakers. Based on the recommendations of many sports articles and trainers at my gym, I try to replace my shoes at the start of every semester and at the beginning of summer. It’s a little treat to get things off on the right foot, pun intended. I searched the mall high and low and tried on and looked some more, but nothing felt right. So I went to the “real runners” store. I’d never really felt like I’d earned my stripes to shop in a store dedicated to hardcore runners, but I had to do something and I was feeling adventurous.

First things first, they have you roll up your pants legs and they start measuring. My feet were calibrated, calculated and circumferenced (yeah, I know, not a word, but hey, you get the idea). Then they slapped on a pair of sample shoes and marched me over to the treadmill with the video camera set up. Yeah, the one right in the front window where everybody and their brother can see you run. Feeling very, very silly at this point, I was given a bit of an anatomy lesson on the ankle and leg bone structure and then told to run while the camera captured it all. Thank goodness it was trained on my feet and not all the wiggly parts that need more running before they go away! Then the real fun began… the trying on. They took all my measurements and foot angles and what not and started bringing out the boxes. Stacks and stacks of boxes… But I’d been doing this trying on thing all day so no biggee. I’d put something on, they’d ask about specific fit and then have me put something else on. When I got it narrowed down to a few pairs, the real humiliation began. Not only did I have to run on the treadmill in the window, I had to run up and down the block… on one of the busiest see-and-be-seen streets in B-lo… with my pant legs still rolled up, and at times in two different kinds of shoes. At least they had two salespeople out there on the sidewalk watching me so I sort of looked like I was there on purpose, I hope.

So, the real verdict… the treadmill. Yesterday I checked off four miles and no pain, well, aside from muscles which have been less than willing to operate since I got home, but no foot pain. I’m still not a “real runner,” but darn, I look like one.

While I was shopping, one of the ladies helping me started giving me a hard time about buying an orange outfit to match my sneakers so I’d look really, really fast. She told stories about seeing people show up to races in the fanciest of fancy, aerodynamic, shiny, intimidating to all others gear. She said she always gets a little nervous about how fast these people will be… until she passes them on the course.

As I was writing this, I started thinking about knitters and our gear. I know I for one check out someone’s knitting bag and needles when I take a group class. Even walking the aisles of the big box stores, I get all snooty when I see fun fur in someone’s basket. While I don’t think we go to classes looking to intimidate others, I think there is something in all of us that likes to size up our competition. I like to think that I knit for my own pleasure and satisfaction, but at the same time, I know that I like the public display aspect of it all. I generally wear handknit items when I go to a class, just to show off in front of other people who recognize handknits. And then of course there’s that blog thing that I like to do. With quilting, I try to take my “cool” projects to quilt camp, although there I know I’m waaaaay out-classed by really talented women. And there’s the shopping aspect too. Many beginning knitters have remarked on the blogs that they don’t feel comfortable going into yarn shops because they haven’t worked their way up the chain to Rowan and Debbie Bliss supplies.

So my first inclination is that it’s all a bunch of hooey and we should take our noses out of the air. It’s all just an act fueled by who has the bigger wallet to empty on our hobbies.

But then there’s also something to be said for pursuing quality. I got better shoes at the running store than I ever would have found on my own. I don’t know that they’ll instantly make me a better runner, but they did manage to keep me on the treadmill whereas the cheaper ones had me limping home, probably to fix a bowl of ice cream. And I know that I’ve experienced the pleasure of working with really nice yarns or fabrics and having a project turn out much, much better than a similar project with lesser quality supplies.

Quality is, of course, the operative word. Best to spend money on the best quality you can afford. But the trickier part is actually determining how much "quality" you need. A few months ago, I bought a reasonably decent mp3 player, yet I prefer to use my cheaper player because it has an arm band and is easy to operate while I run. We all know about the knitters who swear allegiance to Cotton Ease, refusing to think of switching to Rowan Cotton or the like. Sometimes quality isn't really quality. But maybe, the clothes do make the runner or knitter.

Personally, I'm going to compromise. I've got the hipster shoes, but I'll still be the one dragging my sorry hiney up and down the street in a pair of stained workout pants that I've worn for years. Just look at the shoes, not the stains...

05 May 2006

Secret Pal 8 Questionnaire

Hope this gives you some idea of who I am and what I knit, Secret Pal. These things are always tricky and I know it's easier to shop with more information so ask away if you have questions. I feel a little odd writing about things I want!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

My stuck on an island yarn would be Karabella Aurora 8. I tend to go for merino, but I’m pretty much open to anything. Right now, I’ve been lusting after all the pretty sock yarn out there. I’d also like to try some of various yarns out there by Rowan and Debbie Bliss. Basically, I’m a blossoming yarn snob! I love to try new things though, so I’m not picky. Little bits are always fun to sample. Oh, and I love "regional" yarns, like things that are unique to your area or produced locally.

Things I don’t like – scratchy acrylics, most cottons tend to hurt my hands after awhile although I’m still trying to find one that I like.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I have a wine decanter that I use for my straights; circs have a hanging case like the one in Stitch n’ Bitch.

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I started knitting Jan 01. I’d say I was an intermediate knitter.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

I’m working on updating one. I think my current one is pretty much full of dissertation books, ugh.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

vanilla or anything light, just nothing banana; This time of year I usually things that smell "clean," usually with names like Garden Fresh or Spring Breeze or something like that.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Unfortunately, yes. I’d say peanut butter cups were my usual fave, but I love good chocolates, the kind where a single piece is so rich you can have it with your coffee and be pretty content. But really, aren't good ol' M&M's pretty darn tasty?

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I don’t spin and don’t really think I’ll get into that. I love to quilt and really like funky and vintage fabrics in the Amy Butler or Denyse Schmidt styles, some beading and scrapbooking but not as much as the knitting and quilting. I’ve done some crochet as well but don’t enjoy it as much as knitting.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I love mp3s and am always searching for new music, especially up-beat workout music. I go for anything in the music department – hip hop, techno, country, rockabilly, indie, jazz, classical, blues, whatever…

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

Blues are usually my favorites, with any cool, water-type color blends (greens, lavenders, purples). I pretty much like all colors and use them in my knitting and quilting. I love pairing unexpected colors, especially on small accessories. The bright sock yarns are great, although I don’t usually go for primary (rainbow) colors.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I am single and don’t have any pets. I do love to “borrow” my mom’s horse when I’m visiting our family farm in Missouri though.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Yes to all winter gear (live in Buffalo, after all), but maybe not so much on the poncho scene.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Anything and everything! I like to have several projects on the needles - a bigger sweater project, something mindless and portable for group knitting, and something I have to think on, like fair isle or lace.

13. What are you knitting right now?

I won’t list the 863 projects I’ve started and put down! At the top of the list are Lara from Debbie Bliss (really popular on the blogs a few years ago), socks, a felted Sophie purse for a friend, and a lace stole that was a Christmas gift from last year.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Absolutely!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

circs, Addis, Crystal Palace, would like to try Inox needles for lace

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? yes, both

17. How did you learn to knit?

I made several friends sign up for a class at my university, thinking we’d be able to knit and gossip. For the first few months the only things we ever said to each other were strings of expletives when we dropped a stitch!

18. How old is your oldest UFO?

I’m pretty sure there is a Red Heart acrylic scarf or two from that very first class. Ugh, won’t be finishing that!

19. What is your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving or Christmas. Love the food and the Black Friday shopping in November, but also love decorating with all my vintage ornaments and shopping or making gifts in December.

20. Is there anything that you collect?

Where to start on the collections? I used to be a regular antique hunter so I’ve got too many of these. Right now, I’m into anything related to British colonial history since it’s my dissertation topic. More than that, I love adding to the yarn and fabric stashes most of all.

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Books – Will have to think about this one… I’ll work on my Amazon list soon.
Mags – Interweave and Vogue

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Restraint in a yarn store and dedication to finish projects, both techniques I’m sure this won’t be promoting! (Which is a good thing, of course.) Seriously, I’d like to work on my fair isle and lace knitting, both things I’ve dabbled with but nowhere near conquered.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

I completed my first pair during the Knitting Olympics. I wear a ladies size 9, on the average to wider side.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) 06/27 – It’s the big 3-0 this year and I’m dreading it already!

03 May 2006

Anti-Winter Protection

B-Lo residents, you can thank me later. I have successfully staved off a return of chilly weather with my renewed attention to the Winter Socks. As you see, I was anticipating spring and letting my toesies experience the pleasure of exposure and a green lawn. However, this gleeful anticipation left us all unprotected. Now, since I have a pair of socks that will ward off the chills of our blustery weather, we should be safe for at least a few weeks. Preparation for the worst means that the worst will not happen, right? You know the logic, whatever questions you prepare for will absolutely not be on an exam.*

So, finish your winter socks and it will be surely be spring.

I should warn you, there is absolutely nothing sexy about these socks. In fact, I’m thinking about submitting the pattern to the Bush regime’s pro-abstinence arsenal. But by golly, they sure are cozy. (Of course, one may acknowledge my own propensity for saying things like “by golly” is abstinence-promoting, but that’s a different post entirely.) Cankles galore, but cozy cankles...

Anyway, just for documentary purposes, the top picture is how far you can get with one skein of Paton’s Classic Merino Wool if you do 8 inch cuffs, or legs really, too long to be just a cuff. On my feet, that’s 5.5 inches too short. Theoretically, if you only made the cuffs 5 inches, you may get away with a one skein project, but these babies are snuggle socks. You wouldn’t skimp and only do 5 mini marshmallows in your hot chocolate, would you? Nah, go for the full 8. Or 28, I won’t tell. So when you tackle the Winter Sock pattern in the Magic Loop book, buy two skeins of Paton’s Wool. You can always use a JoAnn’s coupon on one and save that 50%!

Pattern: Winter Socks from Magic Loop Book
Yarn: Paton's Classic Merino Wool in Natural Mix, 2 skeins (with lots left over)
Needles: Crystal Palace Sz. 6 circs
Recipient: Moi
Date Started: March 2006
Date Completed: 2 May 2006 (as with all my projects, this one was abandoned to the UFO pile for quite awhile)
Notes: Yummy socks, easy pattern. I think these will be thick for most shoes, but absolutely perfect for CSI viewing on the couch. If anyone wants to try socks or the Magic Loop technique, these would be a great introduction. The worsted weight yarn makes them come together very quickly and you don't have to worry so much about getting gauge on small needles.

Anyway, some random notes:

*Not to worry you about those test questions or anything, Lone Knitter. By the way, on that little test thing that you’re overly prepared for and totally going to rock, here’s my strategy. Always answer Jane Eyre. Everything came back to Jane Eyre for me. Questions about Homi Bhabha? Well, when Mr. Rochester… Spivak’s theories of…? Well, when Bertha Mason… I’m tellin’ ya, just bring up crazy ladies torching their house and you’ll pass with flying colors!

*Krisknits: Sure, I'll sign up for traveling glue gunning (if you promise a cute carpenter)! By the way, this woman is starting on a project with 1200 yards of cobweb yarn, or thread, or wisps of air. Wow, just wow! Let's all send her good knitting juju and ooh and ahh over her lace pics as they come. Cobweb... wow...

Secret Pal: Hi! How cool to hear from you. I've started the questionnaire and will post it tomorrow. Just to let you know, my yarn diet is just to curb my own spending a bit. I'm always open to yarn! And this way I figure I get to enjoy the experience of buying yarn for my pal without feeling guilty that I'm buying it for myself. Still get to go to the shop and pet it, you know. And as to summer plans, I'll be bringing the blog tales of thrills and chills from the library. I'm trying to be a good little grad student and write that dissertation thingy that I'm supposed to be working on.

01 May 2006

Everything But the Hot Carpenter

Yesterday was a regular HGTV plethora o’ craftiness around these parts. I had the perky hostess and all, but yours truly wasn’t out there chatting with the hot carpenter that makes his way to all of those shows. This being the first weekend since the beginning of December wherein my head (and time) have not been decidedly stuck in the 18th century, I decided to reward myself with a night out with the girls (pics to come soon), a day of spring cleaning, and an entire day of Martha time. Saturday with the Windex was wonderful and refreshing, but Sunday really rocked my tomato, as dear Susannah would say. (Don’t worry PG-readers. She assures me there is nothing naughty intended… but if your mind is so inclined, don’t blame me!)

I started my morning with a little home redecorating work. Finally hung my Christmas gifts. You can’t really see in this picture, but my cousin Andy is the one with real photographic talent. Obviously since you can’t see his work in my picture of the pictures, I don’t have a bit of it! I was going for the play between the really old photos, some of family members, most random antique store finds, and the very contemporary look of Andy’s work. But alas, no carpenter around to build me that nifty shelf… another rummage sale find from years of old.

I put my hammer away and pulled out the sewing machine to *gasp* finish a project that I started last fall. Well, honestly, I bought the raw products for this project years ago so it feels pretty good to get this one checked off the list. I used to live in an apartment with a geeeeooooorgeous yellow kitchen. It has potential, but wow, it was yellow. This table and chair set matched the kitchen counter tops. Sunshine yellow is really too pale to describe the original paint scheme. So I busted out the spray paint and turned them black last fall. And then I bought new foam cushions to recover…

and left them in their plastic wrap for about six months. Classy, I know. Anyway, after a few yards of cheap toile home dec fabric and some elbow grease, I actually have real person chairs. However, I’m still looking for the hot carpenter to make new seats for the cushions to rest on so I didn’t go all out with the upholstery job knowing these won’t last more than a few years.

Moving into the living room I decided that I really needed to do something about my coffee table made from an old mirror and a Rubbermaid tub (which incidentally is full of yarn…). I even busted out the glue gun for this job. I know, I could lose my crafty license for that one, but at least I wasn’t gluing baby’s breath onto anything so I think I’m safe. Of course, if I had a hot carpenter, I wouldn’t need to fashion coffee tables from Rubbermaid tubs…

And what do you need when you’re sitting on the sofa admiring your new girly table? Why, a new throw, that’s what. These rag throws are really only a step above nursing home craft, but it’s flllllaaaaanel and soft and has spring umbrellas on it. I was feeling a bit like a messy crafter after that glue gun usage so I knew I had to tackle something where consistent seams were not required. Once I wash it, the seams should fray and be a little less rigid. It’s kinda missing that snuggly factor but it’ll get there after a little TLC… Wouldn’t this just be perfect for snuggling with that missing hot carpenter?

I rounded out my day o’ crafty love with a little knitting, but there’s nothing really to show when you do super long rows of stockinette. Lara’s growing, but sllllloooowly. At this rate, I’ll have a hot carpenter before I have a sweater… snort…

All in all, a pretty good weekend… and look, only one minor crafting injury. I got a little zealous trimming threads to Rachel’s mix CD. Darn little points on scissors… what do they put those there for? I’ll spare you the comment on how I need the hot carpenter to kiss my boo boo…

Sunday, 30 April: nadda

Monday, 1 May: $48.79 Wegmans run. I really had no idea I spend this much on food, groceries and otherwise… yikes.