30 October 2006


I spent a lovely weekend pursuing an old hobby: hunting for treasures (or junk as the case may be). I used to be a regular at thrift stores and rummage sales, filling my trunk with all sorts of baubles and bric-a-brac. I'd pick up this and that with the all-too-common justification, "I can make something out of that."

Enter FlyLady and I reformed (for the most part), realizing that I had more projects than I could ever complete, more gee-gaws than I could ever display and more second-hand clothes than I could ever wear. I've been off the rummage sale circuit for several summers now and my Amvets trips are generally to deposit rather than accumulate.

However, I do miss the thrill of the chase and what better reason to return to the musty aisles than a visit from an out-of-town friend who loves a good junk hunt?

So, Saturday afternoon we headed out and returned with arms full of goodies, which is a big improvement over returning home with a car full of goodies. The damage to my storage was minimal, a sake set and a polka dot dish for the kitchen... some lace, vintage tropical fabric and appliqued quilt blocks for the craft room... and a wire baseket to "fauxganize" something."

I'm really enamoured with this find... 24 blocks on canvas, approx. 24"x24" with flannel flag squares appliqued in the center (and all for only $12). Although these pictures make them look rather bright, the colors are muted and look old. I can't find any rhyme or reason to the countries chosen and I have no clue how I'm going to piece these. Right now I'm thinking I want some sort of folk art flannel like this, but this may be put on the back burner until I get to the big quilting show/event/shopping spree in Paducah, KY in May.

To be perfectly honest, I actually got a warm-up sesson last Wednesday when another friend invited me on an Amvets hunt after I made a total pig of myself at the Indian buffet. All you can eat chicken malai, um, sure, I'll take more of that. And yes, I'd love to give that nifty pink dish set a new home, thankyouverymuch.

It's very nice to rediscover old loves (even if they smell a bit musty) but I think I'll stick to my thrift store avoidance for the sake of my bank account and my closet. Well, I'll stay away for a week or two at least...

28 October 2006

Piles and Potty Problems

My family has annointed me with the title of Holiday Holocaust for my unique ability to call home during a family feast and totally ruin it with some sort of emotional upheaval. I personally think it's a special talent, but they aren't exactly proud. Well, I believe it's time for a new moniker. How's about Plumbing Piraya? Or maybe Freak Flooding Frida? Personally, I like Pioneer Princess Wannabe... as in, I just luuuuurv having to boil water on the stove for heat and an old fashioned sponge bath. And if I get to do it by candlelight... mmm, baby, now we're talking.

Thursday evening while I was working away on this pile o' books, little did I know that my basement was filling with water. (Guess that means I was really concentrating or something...) Luckily my landlord happened to come home just in time and we were able to locate the leak, or explosion as it was. Having flashbacks of the episode of a toilet tank shooting water into the air a few weeks ago, I got to witness my hot water tank performing the same little geyser effect. Mmm, fun times. So off goes the hot water and off it will stay until Monday. And of course I'm having a friend come in from out of town tonight. Welcome to Buffalo, hope you brought your camping supplies because we really don't have these modern conveniences like water and electricity on a regular basis.

The Central Park Hoodie progresses... onto the sleeves...

Oh well, at least writing and knitting don't work up too much of a sweat so the sponge bath with water boiled on the stove is sufficient, at least until I can again hit up friends with facilities a few blocks away. Don't you want to come visit too? Maybe we could set up a bonfire in the backyard or grind our own corn just like the pioneers. Gotta love city livin'!

27 October 2006

Mmm, Baby, Baby... Ba-Baby, Baby!

The babies have been appearing at a fast and furious rate around here. Possibly something to do with those cold winter months where future parents are stuck at home in the cold? Anyway, the knitting needles have been trying to keep up.

Baby Set 2.0

Pattern: Quickie Baby Sweater and Bonnet
Yarn: JoAnn's Bellezza Collection Dolcetto 1.5 skeins (wool/nylon/cotton blend) and a bit from a skein of pink & purple mystery yarn
Needles: 10.5 Addis, H crochet hook
Dates: October 2006
Recipient: Baby A in Kansas City
Notes: This pattern is a great little project for a baby set. It's fast, easy and you can easily get cute results, especially with the addition of cutesy little buttons and ribbon. I opted for the wee little twee buttons and shiny translucent ribbon to up the princess factor on the sweater. If you can't be twee when you're a month old, really, when can you get away with pink rose buttons?

This yarn is lighter than baby set 1.0 so the finished project is smaller, but I think/hope it will work for a newborn little princess. I completed the pattern as written for the version with buttons, only changing the ribbing on the sleeves to garter stitch as before. I only used the pink yarn on the garter stitch since color tips at the cuffs and bottom seem to be au courant and our little one must be in the latest trend.

Now to the yarn... This was a Black Friday purchase from last year, I believe, with nothing in mind for it besides curiosity. It's a bit like knitting with cotton candy, provided cotton candy wasn't sticky. It's very, very soft, single-ply, although plied might even be too strong to describe this stuff. It looks like you could just pull it apart and although that never happened, I don't think this is going to hold up for the long haul. It pills rather easily and I felt that the sweater looked "worn" before I even wrapped it up. I'm a bit concerned that even with careful handwashing, it's going to hit the water and come out looking like the matted, gross edges of the cotton candy swirl after everyone and their brother has come along begging for a mouthful of your confection.

It didn't knit up very evenly, which was fine for this project, but if you like the look of even, crisp stitches, avoid this stuff. (Might be interesting to see this on smaller needles too, as the large gauge possibly affected the less-than-stellar outcome.) Although it comes in baby colors, I think the hand-wash in cold factor should really be considered before this becomes anyone's standard baby sweater yarn. This is another case where the Big Box Store brand isn't a savings at all. I got it at serious discount in the pre-dawn hours of Black Friday shopping, but at $6 for 131 yards, it's not really a very good deal. All in all, I think the finished product was acceptable, and I'll probably even use the rest of my stash of this for something for the nephew arriving in Feb., but I wouldn't seek this yarn out for something in the future.

On a technical note, Blogger and I have not been playing nicely together this week. This post was eaten twice and I've lost countless comments on others' blogs. Grrr... So if you've commented and I've not replied, I'm not trying to be a terribly rude dolt. Seems that I've taken up a rather nasty habit of swearing like a pirate every time I see a blogger malfunction and somehow I don't feel it's appropriate to say "cute scarf, $%#^@^@ computers!" So rudeness prevails but hopefully not for long. I'm having visions of my grandmother pointing her crooked finger at me and informing me in no uncertain terms to get to commenting (with polite words).

Despite these little "issues," I think I may sign up for this, National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). A post every day in November? Doubt I can post about knitting every day, but I've been wanting to post more frequently anyway. Hmm... anyone else game?

22 October 2006

A Rainy Sunday at My House

Well, the Rhinebeck reports are starting to come in and alas, this will not be one of them. Although I wanted to go this year, the stars didn't align for me, which is probably best for my pocketbook! But next year, oh next year, there will be Rhinebeck mayhem... Actually I've been tossing around the idea of doing another yarn diet until next year's round of festivals in an attempt to have naked sticks and a reduced stash by then, but we'll see if I can commit to something like that.

So what have I been doing all weekend instead of cavorting with bloggers and buying yarn?

Oh yeah, I know how to party. That screen is actually full of writing, but maybe since it's so darn boring, my camera decided to white it out and save y'all the pain of being exposed to dissertation land? Anyway, I worked, worked, and worked a little bit more, but like the yarn diet, a little bit of discipline paid off and I'm feeling a tad less guilty and morose about life a la grad student. But don't worry, I'm sure the required angst levels will return tomorrow morning.

By the way, this post about writing from one of our fearless leaders is one of the best blog entries I've ever read. She is absolutely, one hundred percent dead on. No amount of sitting in your ugly sweat pants and drinking coffee can make up for the fact that writing sucks. It just plain ol sucks. But anyway, I digress... (which is something I do frequently, thus another reason writing sucks...)

I have been plugging away on my two current projects, but progress is slow and rather unremarkable.
The Socktoberfest socks are growing and I've decided to give the short-row heel another go of it since I've recently been diagnosed as a combination knitter and will hopefully be able to use this knowledge to fix my gauge wonkiness. Combination knitter, makes me feel all heretical now. Or maybe it's more the substantiation of hybridity as expressed in the liminal spaces of my sock heels Yeah, me and H0mi Bhabha, we're tight. (Egads I need to get out more... or go back to reading Stephen King exclusively...)
The Central Park Hoodie is also growing and is being bumped up in status to my main project so I can hopefully finish it before my Nov. knitting guild meeting. At the Oct. meeting I learned that the designer is a local and was excited to be reading the group blog. I'd really like to be able to show off my completed project and take my picture with her and my version of her design. So far this has been a really great project, very easy but the cabling looks impressive and I enjoy working with the yarn (Cascade Quattro). I'm a little worried about fit since nothing seems to look right at the moment. (Could it have something to do with sitting at the $#@% computer all day in my ugly sweat pants, perhaps? Must.finish.diss so I can get my growing behind back on the treadmill!)
I've been dying to get some new projects on both my computer screen and my knitting needles, but I know the siren call of Clapotis and Charles Dickens would just get me into trouble right now. Anybody have any of Odysseus' ear plug techniques so I can actually finish something?!?! Although, maybe if I tied myself to my computer chair, I wouldn't be able to get up and wander into the kitchen and then maybe the behind would start shrinking again? Hmm, maybe I could start knitting some i-cord for that?
Yes, the attention span of a gnat...

21 October 2006

Mittens Accomplished

Thanks for all of your warm wishes! I really consider myself very lucky to have only been in the dark for a few days. I believe there are still people without power and I can only imagine the frustration they must be going through. I really can't imagine what it is like to go through something like Katrina or a personal loss such as a house fire. I suppose we can only be thankful for what we have and try to give a little more to those without. I've certainly said it a lot this week, but I know I take it for granted that I'll wake up in the morning with a latte and a hot shower. It's good to be reminded of just how rare it is to have such luxuries.

Anyway, on to the knitting. First, welcome anyone who discovered my little internet home via the knitting blog ring. I feel like a real knit blogger now! My blog is fairly simple, but it keeps me entertained.

It was a long week of trying to pick up the pieces around the office and at home, but I did manage to finish my October Surprise* mittens and even do a scarf from the leftovers. Talk about a great one skein project!
Pattern: Super Mittens from Weekend Knitting

Yarn: Brown Sheep Burlyspun, 1 skein

Needles: 10 1/2 dpn's

Dates: 12 Oct - 17 Oct

Recipient: The Cold One, me

Notes: My row gauge was way off with this one so I kinda improvised. On the thumb gusset I increased every other round rather than every third round. I didn't even bother counting rows for the hand but just knit until they felt right. The picture makes them look like they differ greatly in size but they're pretty close, if not the same. They're about as close to same as I could get considering both were knit under the influence.

The scarf is a simple drop stitch pattern over 8 stitches on sz. 17 needles. It's not very long, but will work to tuck into my coat on days I feel the need to have a matching set.
Overall, I'm very impressed with this yarn. The mittens have a solid fabric that's stiff and hopefully reasonably wind/snow/cold-proof, but not so stiff that I won't be able to move my fingers. I like the single-ply feel to it and the dye job is very, very pretty. (Much prettier than my pictures show!) On the right person (i.e., one much smaller than yours truly), I could see this making a nice sweater with a rolled-neck. All you skinnyKate M0ss knitters charge up your needles and I'll like vicariously through you.
Although my pattern was only really influenced by the Weekend Knitting book, this was a great excuse to take it out and drool over the pages again. This is one of my favorite eye candy books and I really should make more things from here. All the pics of frolicking on the New England farm are just too charming to resist! If it's not in your library, check it out. It's the right kind of eye candy.
* The jury is still out on what they're calling our latest weather debacle. I'm personally going for the day we all got caught without a shovel but it lacks a certain ring so October Surprise it is, I suppose.

16 October 2006

Dude, We Have a Crisis... We're Out of Beer

So when I last posted, I was just settling in for a nice, cozy evening with wine, a good movie and some knitting. There was a certain thrill in the air as the city got its first dose of winter. I went to bed Thursday evening, chilly but generally content.

I woke up Friday morning to this...

2 feet of snow... in October.

Oh yeah, and no power...

Little did I know that I wouldn't have power for three and a half days.

And at that point, I'd be one of the lucky ones since there are people who are still shivering in the dark and may have to for another week. Yes, that would be ten days without power. Buffalonians are tough, but it could get a little crusty around here if people are without heat for ten days.

Sorta gives a new meaning to advertising Buffalo neighborhoods as being full of tree-lined streets. On Friday, most streets were unpassable with more trees in the road than ones standing. The last report I heard stated that the debris is the equivalent of 200,000 trees. The clean-up process could take up to six months. We hadn't even hit our peak color yet. Most of those branches being turned into mulch are covered with green leaves.

Rioting was barely averted when the beer trucks were able to get into the city. On Friday night, when 340,000 people were without power, the city ran out of suds. This, in a city whose philosophy is that the best way to beat a blizzard is to get a six-pack and stay home. It was a frightening hour for all involved.
Remember the snow I found inside my apartment on Thursday night? Well, I decided to add my own indoor ice skating rink on Sunday when my toilet began spewing water from the tank. Imagine yours truly in the dark in a very cold apartment, holding a flashlight and a cell phone in one hand with the other arm in the back of the tank, wet to the shoulder, trying to jiggle all the parts described by my brother and father in Missouri, who were warm and content after a homemade meal. Yep, I know how to party. Want to come for a visit?

At least I was one of the lucky ones with generous friends who had electricity, warm food, hot water and an extra bed. Oh, and lots of alcohol. It's great to have friends with power... especially the AC/DC kind.

Now if the Great October Surprise isn't a reason to knit a mitten, I don't know what is.

Super Mittens from Weekend Knitting, made with Brown Sheep Burlyspun

Hopefully I get the second one finished before our next snow. We should be flake-free for a few days, though heavy rains are supposed to start tonight, flooding the entire area, especially streets where debris is blocking storm drains. You know, like every street in Buffalo. I'm going to start building my ark now. At least I won't have to cut down any branches for timber.

12 October 2006

Things you do NOT want to do on October 12

1. Hear the words LAKE EFFECT or SIGNIFICANT ACCUMULATION. (Be very, very thankful if you do not understand what LAKE EFFECT means.)

2. See snow blowing up from said lake and onto the highway from three different directions

2. Witness your first guy-falling-on-his-ass-in-the-snow episode of the season

3. Witness your first car-slamming-into-another-car episode of the season

4. Scrape snow off your car without the protection of a coat, gloves or a hat because you stupidly believed the forecast which only called for light rain

5. Come home to open windows and a small snow accumulation… inside your apartment

So I believe tonight’s plan is to shovel out my living room and get started on some new mittens. I’m sooooo not ready for this again.

09 October 2006

I Sock! You Sock! We All Sock!

Sorry about the possible angry connotations of that title. No offense intended! Feeling a wee bit frisky and frustrated after waaaaaay too much editing recently. You should see me with my red pen. “Ha, ha, bad sentence… Take that!” I know, it’s really a good thing I don’t leave my house all that often…

Anyway, since this week starts another round of Socktoberfest activities, thought I’d best get on last week’s assignment!

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

I took a sock knitting class in the spring of 2004 and created the world’s ugliest sock for Ronald McDonald. I wasn’t exactly enamored with the process or the product.

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?

My first completed pair of socks was for this spring’s Knitting Olympics. They were for my mom, out of Opal something or other, using Magic Loop. I don’t know how much they’ve been worn. I haven’t heard of reports of darning. Ahem, mom, wear your socks!

What would you have done differently?

I’m not crazy about how ribbing looks for me so I would probably go for a different top, maybe a picot edge. I also used a short row heel and that wasn’t pretty. I didn’t have too many problems with the wrapping and turning, it was a gauge issue between knitting flat and in the round. (I’m still planning to work on fixing that!) Lately I’ve been using the “beforethought” heel (like the afterthought heel, but, um, before you knit the foot) and that is working out much better. But overall, I was pretty pleased with my Knitting Olympics results.
What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

I don’t think I’ve found my true love sock yarn yet. Maybe it’s hiding out with my true love boy? Can you imagine finding your perfect yarn and your perfect boy all at the same time? Talk about heaven… Anyway, I’ve used Regia, Lion Brand Magic Stripes, Trekking XXL, Paton’s Classic Wool (for some worsted wt. winter socks), Opal and am currently using Sunshine Yarns. I’m pretty excited to try the Looped Back yarn I recently discovered and some SweetGeorgia in the stash.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

I’m definitely a Magic Looper. My first pair was on DPNs and my gauge was horrible. I felt like I was wrestling a porcupine. Socks are my portable project so I like being able to throw them in my bag and not worry about all those little points sticking me or more importantly, having the sock slip off one of those slippery little ends. So far I’ve enjoyed my socks knit on Addis sz. 2.5 mm (marked a US#1 but it’s a little off standard size) and hope to try the Knitpicks needles soon.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

Right now it’s the before-thought heel from Charlene Schurch, but I did enjoy the heel flap on a recent pair. I’m still experimenting. I’m looking forward to trying the heel flap on toe-up method that I’ve seen in recent socks on Knitty. Onward and upward (literally), right?

How many pairs have you made?

1. Knitting Olympics for Mom
2. Winter Socks for me
3. Lion Brand for me
4. Trekking for me
5. A few lone socks that will be gifts eventually… since I know of at least two socks that are finished, I’m counting this as an unmatched pair.
Happy Socking everyone!

04 October 2006

All the (Knitting) News That's Fit to Print

It's been a bit of a whirlwind around here lately and I've not had a chance to update on all the various projects and knitting fun. This will be a bit random, but eh, I suppose I'm a bit random right now. Here's a conglomeration of posts for the knitalongs and such on the calendar.

Finally Leapin’!

I visited a small fiber festival this weekend and made my first Kureyon purchase. I’ve only used Noro once before, on a pillow covering out of Oimochan, and I’m glad I resisted the Kureyon urge until just the right project because I think I may be a goner. I’m trying to make this a long-term project by picking up a skein here and there, but like the designer, I may not be able to hold out.

I made my first square out of 165. I am hoping to use a lot of teals and blues in the afghan and was attracted to this color in the skein… the one color that I didn’t use. In quilting I’ve learned that it’s often the unexpected colors that really make a project come alive and this one seems like a perfect start to a fall project. The mix of orange and green matches the leaves coloring the farm where I purchased the yarn. Perhaps each square will take on some of the personality of the yarn I select? (I’ve also learned in quilting to wait to square up my blocks after I’ve finished them all so I can take a true average of my misshapen “squares,” so I’m going to wait to block until I have a few squares done to try to get them to be about the same size… or as close to “same size” as I ever make things.)

Do you think the Knitter General should put warning labels resembling those on cigarette packs on patterns like this? Caution: This project is highly addictive. Knitting it could be hazardous to your wallet, job, laundry duties, and health as you will skip the gym to knit just one more section!

Happy Socktoberfest!

Thought I’d kick off the month right with a challenge, some stash-busting and an ode to the Socktoberfest button, all in one! Well, two in one… that’s two at a time, toe-up, baby! And I don’t think I cursed once during the cast on. Well, maybe once, but who’s counting? So far, so good, but I’m not so sure about my needle choice. I found some inexpensive bamboo sz 1 needles by Kinki Amibari Mfg. at a recent yarn shop visit and they’re working, but the join isn’t the greatest. I think I’m spending more time yanking on the yarn than knitting. Maybe there will be switching if do a Knitpicks order. It’s getting faster though so hopefully I’ll have striped socks by Halloween! I’m seeing a witch costume in my future… (although there is still last year's Hallowig that never got worn...)

Another Festival... More Stash
Despite blustery conditions, we braved the Knox Fiber Festival and true to form I found some yarn that just had to make its way to my dear little abode. The bargain of the day was the Poetry in Stitches book for $10. The projects in there are a bit out of my league, more like a whole big bit out of my league, but total eye candy. I saw an E.Zimmerman book on the table early but I didn't see the prices. Needless to say, it was gone by the time I returned.
The sock yarn stash continues to expand with 2 skeins of Plymouth Sockotta in a great blue combination and 4 skeins of Brown Sheep Wildfoote. I'm guessing I'm planning to make thigh-high hose or something with that much yarn! I'll be sure to keep you posted.

The find of the day was actually a person... the purveyor of Looped Back yarns. Such a cool girl and talented to boot. I had to bring these two little bundles home with me. The pictures aren't doing the yarn justice, but I have to say this is some of the prettiest sock yarn I've ever seen. The colors are subtle but very complex. And soft isn't a strong enough description. She does have brighter combos if you're that kind of girl... or guy, crazy socks are gender-neutral, i suppose.

I also found some unique shell buttons and clasps but forgot to take a picture. I've got visions of purse decorations swimming around my head. Now just to find the time to sit down and make the purse!
And here's the big news... tonight I'm attending my first Knitting Guild meeting. Of course the big question about all these knitting events... whatever shall I wear? Must do more knitting so I can join the hip crowd and sport a creation at every gathering!