Friday, December 29, 2006

Such a weirdo!

My dear Punk Rock Secret Pal Suzi over at the Darkside of Knitting has tagged me for a meme! I love meme's-all you people who love 'em to feel free to tag me. I think it's because I never participated in those "Find out more about your friends" chain emails I always got from people and now I feel all empty inside. Anyway, this is a meme about weird things, so you all get to now learn 6 weird things about me:

1. Starting with the obvious-my name. I know it's weird because I usually hear it mispronounced at least a few times a day. You might not know from reading it but my name is pronounced with a long A and then a short A. Imagine the name Dana but spelled with a J. Or as a friend in high school used to write on notes "J-na." Or just the name Jane with an A after it. Did you know that? I worry some day I'll meet my blogger friends and they'll all say it like 'Janna' with a short A sound and I'll feel all weird correcting you. So there, now you know how to say my name!

2. My heritage. Did you know that I am half Puerto Rican? Maybe the palest one you ever met right? My dad is from Arecibo, Puerto Rico. My mother-from New Philadelphia, Ohio. Guess which one I look like?

But my sister? Dark hair, dark eyes and tans well. Go figure.

3. Phobias. I have a few very strange ones. There are a few things that people see all the time, every day that just totally freak me the f*ck out. And even worse-I won't tell you what they are. I'm that scared. An encounter with such things results in many sleepless nights and possibly relocating and so I'm always afraid someone might just want to test the waters and see if that's actually true. So they're secret. So there.

4. I love the cold. Love it love it love it. People here will always walk in from the rain and say "Well at least it's not snow!" I walk in from 10 degree freezing weather and say "Well, at least it's not summer!" I hate the heat, love the cold. You'll never, ever hear me complain about snow or cold. Never.

5. Met the husband on the internet. Is that still weird? It used to be when we met 10 years ago but now I guess it's becoming more common. It was so long ago that get this- we didn't even see each others pictures first! I just knew to look for the biggest guy I saw and that would be him! And 10 years later still together. Whaddaya know.

6. I'm a knitter. Ok-you guys don't think it's weird but come on, you know how the Muggles look at us all the time don't you? When I'm at a party, and talking about Ipods comes up you know I go right into a dither about knitting podcasts right? I love you, you are my knitting bretheren but you have to admit in a world full of McDonalds, Lindsey Lohan and fake tanning we still stick out like sore thumbs most of the time right?

But we obviously don't care cause why else would we be here? Haha!

Anyhoo, I get to tag 6 people to list weird stuff about themselves now. How about Tracy, Grace, Rachel, Karin, Sunneshine, and Say, or anyone else who feels like partaking? (Don't forget the rules- Each player of this game starts with the weird things about you. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog.) Come on all, tell us something we didn't know!

And good knitting content will follow in the next few days. I am racing along on that sweater, I finished one sleeve already and I'm almost done with the body!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Merry!

We made it! The tree got decorated in record time yesterday afternoon, minutes before guests arrived! We've kicked off the holiday, opened a few gifts and are getting around to head out and visit family, more gifts, eating drinking, good cheer. Happy holidays to all you guys, no matter what or how or where you celebrate. Merry Merry!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

How many days are left????

You know lately it seems like as soon as Halloween is over Christmas is here. It's as if the moment the last sales clerk cleans up the last kernel of candy corn on Halloween magically elves must prance through the malls instantly hatching huge decorated Christmas trees twinkling with lights blaring Christmas music from every corner. Almost instantly. Right away...

This is not the case here this year...

It's December 23rd and that picture of my Christmas tree? Yep, just taken today. Well the tree only got here yesterday so it's not like it's been sitting around for weeks or anything. Normally, I'm more on the ball. While I'm not out there with the elves at 12:01 November 1st I usually have my jingle on somewhere around December 1st at least, trying to be a good sport and have holiday spirit and be fairly on schedule with my holiday tasks. But it's been a weird year around here this year. In the spirit of keeping this a knitting blog and not a whining blog I'll try to spare you the gory details and begin by summing it up this way- work drama for me, work drama for the husband, trying to get my mom moved before she has back surgery in January. See? It's been so traumatic it reduces me to the vocabulary of a preschooler, it really does. Trust me you don't want to know.

But we have a tree, and a wreath, thanks to my aunt and uncle who always send something interesting and good every year. And trust me things are finally turning around for us now, they are turning around fast and really, really well.

After spending the last hmm, 3-4 weekends in their entirety working with my mom and all her stuff we've finally gotten her moved into the new place and she loves it. It was tough though, after being where she was for 14 years there was a lot of stuff to go through, and get rid of, and she wanted almost all new furniture. And it was a lot of shopping and ridding and sweating-she's having back surgery remember? Can't lift anything? Yeah, we're glad she's in the new place and getting settled now.

And it seems like the work dramas are over. Husband is still on severance for awhile and is starting some training on Tuesday where he will also have job placement. Yep, we found out a few months ago that his job had been outsourced to Camden which is not only 2 hours away but also the murder capital of New Jersey. Ick. No thanks. But he's excited about what he's starting now and we think it will be a great fit. Meanwhile, my job had been causing me agita since about the end of the summer. A couple of straws broke this camels back lately though, so it's time to move onto bigger and better. I finished the crappy old job yesterday and I landed a cool new job to start in January, but first- I've rewarded myself with a lovely 2 weeks off! Woo hoo! I cannot tell you the last time I had this much time off. I'm really psyched. I have lots of stuff planned including lots of knitting of course!

But in the meantime first I have the holiday to enjoy. So while I may be a little late, I'm not going to let that stop me. If I don't get the tree done today my mom will be here tomorrow and we'll get it done then, we still have time right? Today I intend to finish the wrapping first, remember these guys?

Well the scarf and hat and socks yes, the towels I snuck in on the side. They were specific request, lovely cotton Lily Sugar & Cream cloths, one large, two small. Not shown in the picture are the bear that's been shipped off to my niece and the socks I knit for my dad-with everything going on I didn't even have time to photograph those. But they got done and are mailed.

I've even already started with doing some baking today. I have a batch of mint brownies in the oven. The recipe is from Everyday Food and has a layer of Peppermint Patties in the middle. I can smell them from here and they smell really good! And already off the cookie sheets and on the baking rack-

these are Ginger Cookies from Paula Deen. My crappy photography does not do their taste and also their smell while baking in the oven (also divine) justice. So see, I'm getting there. Better late than never. By the time Santa makes it to my house he will have thought I started preparing months ago!

**P.S. With all this craziness I haven't even switched to the new Blogger yet! I promise it's coming! If you are experiencing any issues with the comments because of the old Blogger I apologize, I promise I'm going to be switching soon! Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

So happy....

I present to you a body...

and a sleeve...

I finally got to cast on for the Main Street Pullover from WEBS. Why does this make me so happy? Well the shallowest reason is probably that it's finally something for me. I've finally finished/gave up on my Christmas knitting, depends on how you look at it. I might have shortened the list of gifts to knit for people but hey, it's a finished list now isn't it? But really probably more so is the yarn and the pattern for this sweater. First of all the Lenox yarn is delish. It is so soft, but not like mushy-fall apart in your hands soft, it still has some body to it which I really like. Secondly, this may make me a bore but I'm just a sucker for stockinette in the round. Boring I know, but I just love it. So relaxing, I can almost do it without looking. Today I worked on it while watching Funny Face and drinking Bigelow Gingersnap Tea (also delish). Warm beverage, Audrey Hepburn, Gershwin, baby alpaca and merino. What else can you ask for from a Sunday afternoon?

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Huggy Bear

Pattern: Baby Bobbi Bear by Blue Sky Alpacas

Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton

My 2 cents: Well, it looks a lot better than I thought it would. He is pretty cute and is really, really soft. The yarn and stuffing is washable which is very important. I'm hoping that plus this being Organic Cotton and really having no small pieces to fall off and be swallowed will help get this past my scrutinizing sister and into the arms of my niece. I'm hoping she likes it, it's my understanding that she is learning to give hugs and I'm thinking our little friend here would be happy to practice with her!

As for the knitting well, I have had negative experiences with knitting toys in the past. I usually understand the instructions but get lost in the process somewhere. With Bobbi Bear there is much more knitting than seaming which was actually a welcome change from the toys I've made in the past. Here the only seaming is sewing on the ears. So less seaming meant (for me) less of a struggle at the end. But the struggle was still there nonetheless. The ears took probably 4 different tries to get them on and I got pretty frustrated trying to get the eyes and nose to look like the picture (which was the only guide I had). Unfortunately when I finished on Sunday afternoon I was swearing and ready to be done. I was happy with the end product but pretty convinced this was probably going a one time knit. But then I spent the day with him today, showing him to some people at work and my knitting group and it probably sounds corny but the more time I spend with him the more he really does grow on me. Even if the eyes were hard. He's so soft and you really don't want to put him down. I'm thinking maybe someday I'll knit him again. Maybe the second time around it would come a lot easier? But I'm not sure I really want to make him as a gift again. I just might have to make one for myself!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Things I like right now

I can't tell you guys how good it felt to read the comments from the last post. I knew there were others of you out there with holiday mind frazzle. I knew I wasn't alone. Stay strong though! With enough yarn and needles, we'll make it, I'm sure we can!

So the new Knitty isn't up yet. Does anyone else keep checking a million times a day like me? Anyway just in case you're thirsting for new patterns to drool over I thought I'd just take a quick minute and tune you into some of my favorite kniterly things at the moment.

Eunny Jang's new Anemoi Mittens pattern- The Zimmermania blog got me started on a Fair Isle Mitten curiosity and this pattern just plucks all of those strings all over again. I've never really Fair-Isled for real and don't think I've worn mittens in about 26 years but for some reason these things are speaking to me! I'll be downloading this pattern soon for sure.

The Perfect Sweater Ann is knitting at Mason-Dixon Knitting- They said a Perfect Sweater pattern could never exist and (yes I know I haven't actually knit it yet) but I still say they were wrong! That sweater is so, so nice and you can download the pdf for free and make it yourself. And it's Cascade 220, I love Cascade 220!

The Red Light Special hat at Brooklyn Tweed- Ok, really everything at Brooklyn Tweed looks good to me. I want to see him go to the landfills of Bayonne, New Jersey and try to make them look bad! Just try! Everything he photographs instantly looks like Russell Crowe on toast. Seriously. And it's more Fair Isle. And it's red. Beautiful.

Speaking of

The podcast at Sticks and String is by an Australian Bloke named David Reidy. He's rad. He knows a lot of stuff and gives a much more accurate male point of view of this knitting business than my husband or guy friends or the dudes at work or probably even Russell Crowe (I know the photos may be a joke/hoax/etc. He probably knits as well as I could play Master and Commander, but they crack me up anyway) And David has a lovely accent. You could listen to him and think about Russell Crowe if you like. You know, if you like that kind of thing....

And finally I've also been really into the new podcast The Knitting Cook. There's something about the knitting and the cooking together. How many blogs do you read all the time where they also mention food? All the time right? We need to keep our energy up with something of course. Anyway Faith, the host of The Knitting Cook, just moved to Germany with her family and is always friendly and easy to listen to. She's got lots of knitting info and Germany stories and food tips and recipes. In a few of the last episodes she's done the podcast while actually cooking the recipe in her kitchen. It's kind of like watching the Food Network while I drive. Kind of blows your mind just a little doesn't it? Hey it doesn't take much, I'm a recent victim of holiday mind frazzle remember? Be patient with me.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My weekend and why I knit

This weekend was an absolute whirlwind. I don't even have any photos to post, because I never even had a second to think about the camera. First I left work a little early Friday to take the train into Manhattan to have dinner with my dad. He'll be traveling from now until after the holidays to it was important to meet up and bond a little. This meant I had the pleasure of battling with a NJ Transit 30 minute delay, the 30-50 mph winds and pouring rain we had Friday and trying to catch a cab during primetime. But it was totally worth it and was a lovely dinner. Saturday had more nuttiness-after a quick trip to the gym and shower, husband and I did a quick grocery shopping so we could get back home and make 2 full recipes of the rum balls and bourbon balls I've made in the past that he wanted to bring to the party we were going to in Brooklyn that afternoon/night. The party started at 3 p.m. and went probably into the wee hours of the morning, but knowing what I faced for Sunday we made it home at a reasonable 11:45. We had a great time hanging out with our friends but for some reason I had mindlessly spent most of the time standing in heeled shoes and by the time we got to the car that night I was pretty much working up a good limp. By Sunday I was already feeling the lack of sleep and crazy pace so I decided to be a slacker and skip the gym for sleep, just to get up at 8 a.m. anyway to get myself around and go over to my mom's house to help her with a bunch of stuff. She's in the process of moving so we spent the day lugging boxes to the new apartment, packing more boxes where she is now and going to what feels like 6 million stores to buy a whole bunch of stuff she needs. (The entire time I'm looking at the holiday decorations in the stores thinking, "Crap, I'm supposed to be doing holiday stuff right now too. Maybe I really should just admit defeat at this point.") I got home around 6 last night. Tried to make my house look a little less like a hurricane had hit it. Ate, and then at 8 p.m. Sunday night I finally sat down for the first time that weekend. Now by the time this sitting down point rolled around I was pretty much an absolute mess. Cranky. Tired. Miserable. Bitchy. Verry bitchy. For some reason busy weekends and me, we don't really get along. During the week is one thing. I expect my week to be busy, I'm at work 9 hours a day and after that there's not time for the rest. But when I get to 8 p.m. Sunday night in that state, and I'm thinking that in 12 hours I'll be at work bitching about Monday morning it's just not a good thing. I notice cat and husband start to look at me askance a little at that point.

But anyway, somehow I just decided to keep it together, watch some Amazing Race and knit a few stitches on my sock. And somehow, by the time I decided to call it a day around 10 I was feeling so much better. Just relaxed and focused and much, much calmer. It was a miracle! And when I noticed how much better I felt I decided it had to be the knitting. The one hour I got to sit down and knit just made me feel so much better, and changed my attitude and gave me such clarity. It's funny because I normally get pretty wrapped up in my knitting and what I'm trying to get done. It's like I'm Knitting with a capital K. And it's easy for me to forget all the other stuff. How soothing it can be. How it opens me up and helps me breathe and hear and rest. And it helps me let worry go and just slow down this crazy brain in general. This is why I knit. It calms me and makes me more human. It's just so funny that a little bit of knitting in my day can do all those things. It's such a simple, daily miracle and I'm really lucky to have it in my life!

Sigh... Now I just have to find some time to carve out for those Christmas cards or my relatives are going to be concerned....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

See what I mean? So cool!

Just when I finally go around to talking about my PRGE pals I got another package from Suzi at Darkside of Knitting! Look at all the great stuff I got! First- the purple and black tube-shaped thing is a sock tote with some very pretty sock yarn inside. I really, really like the sock yarn. It's kind of purple and blue and tan, the colors are great and it's really soft. And I like the sock tote idea because I do work on them on-the-go quite a bit and with the cat factor at home it's always good to keep the knitting zipped up. Then the white thing with the red beads is a jug cover which is very neat, it's supposed to keep bugs out of a jug, which is great because we do bbq a lot in the summer and always have a pitcher of lemonade or something, and there's nothing worse than having to watch a fly do the backstroke in there. And then there's a mousepad with a picture of Cradle Mountain on it and it says Tasmania. This is so coming into work with me. The mousepad I have there is boring and black and crusty (ick) and way overdue for a replacement and let me just tell you, people will be very impressed that I know someone from Tasmania! Seriously Grace and Suzi- do you know what a different and exotic place Tasmania seems like to us? It's just about as far away from here as you can get without getting on a space shuttle and we know so little about it. Anyway moving on there are also some delicious Australian candies, a really neat Australian food magazine, a funny postcard about summer in Tasmania, the cutest kitty card and another fun toy for Mr. Allister!

Anyway, all very great stuff, I'm sure to have fun with. Thanks again Suzi!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Stuffing, the weekend after Thanksgiving

Sorry for the pun, but this is some of what I worked on today. I started and finished stuffing the Baby Bobbi Bear. I also finished knitting the bear. But no finished photo? Well, the knitting part is done, I still have to sew on the ears and do some duplicate stitch and embroider on his little face. Which is somewhat intimidating to me. I'm afraid I'm going to get an ear crooked or one eye lower than the other and he will end up being a little lopsided bear. So in the typical procrastinator fashion I've put that stuff off until next weekend when is the next time I'll have some more quiet, natural daylight time to hopefully do it properly and take a finished photo for you.

In other news I've waited way too long to update on how things are going over at the Punk Rock Gift Exchange. We had the big reveal there a couple of weeks ago and I learned that my secret pal has been Suzi over at Darkside of Knitting. Also all along I've always known that the person I was buying for was Grace at Black Crow Knitting. It's been so cool hanging with these chicks and doing the whole fun exchange thing. They are both from outside the U.S. which I now think just really makes the whole process even more fun. And the girls are both extremely talented and punk rock, so you should definitely check out their blogs and say hi! I'm a fan and will be hopefully be posting lots of comments and keeping in touch for a while to come.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


First and foremost, I'm thankful for my health. I'm thankful that most of the time I'm able to move about freely without thinking twice and without pain or discomfort. It gets me where I need to be.

I'm thankful for my family and friends. They crack me up. They hug and kiss me. They give me tissues when I need them. They put up with my crap. They tell me when they're tired of my crap. 'Nuff said.

I'm thankful for my husband. He washed a lot of dishes today and cut his finger on a glass and never complained and just went on washing. He even ate turkey which he doesn't like all that much and still said it was really good. He puts up with a fair amount of crap also.

I'm thankful for my freedom and that I can pretty much go where I want when I want. I can read the books I want to read. I can speak my mind and be safe knowing I have this freedom and it should be valued.

I'm thankful for the roof over my head and the food in my belly. A lot of people in this world live way too often without enough of either. We can never give back too much.

And of course -I'm thankful for my knitting. It helps me steady the course. It helps me stay sane. It will be a great way to end a yummy, happy, thankful day.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Of crises and casting them off

"Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crisis." -Elizabeth Zimmmerman

Stacey from Sheep in the City mentioned this quote on her blog the other day. I'm sure I've read it somewhere else before, but for some reason this week it was just particularly good to be reminded of. Stacey's dad is going through some rough stuff right now and I really hope everything goes ok. I really hope that her and her family can get some peace and strength while they go through their current trials. Her mom is a knitter too, so hopefully there's lots of good knitting vibes all around them. While it's nothing like what Stacey's going through I've had a few crises here and there lately. Not horrible stuff, but still, the words of EZ have been very comforting.

I really don't want to go into all of it now (maybe some other time) but I do have to tell you how my Thursday night went this week when we lost power. We had really bad weather here, this was the storm where all the tornados hit down south and did a lot of damage there. It was all windy and rainy and yucky. So when of course did we lose power? Well, I had just gotten home from the gym and was in the shower of course, with a head full of shampoo. Has this every happened to anyone? Well, it's kind of scary, really. Everything goes out and the water is still pouring down and all I could think was "Oh crap." So I just tried to get my bearings, listened really close to make sure Freddy/Jason/Michael Meyers weren't in the shower with me, rinsed my hair (I think) turned the shower off, managed to get out of the shower without falling on my tuckus, got a towel and of course the power went right back on then. Of course. So the husband comes home a little while after that and tells me that there was a transformer on fire just down the street. Just as he's finishing saying the word 'street' of course the power went back out.

I hadn't had dinner yet and was starving, so with no power we lit a bunch of candles, and I fumbled around in the fridge and made myself a modified version of Nigella Lawson's Hungarian Sandwich. Mine was whole wheat and strawberry jam, but still pretty good. Kind of like a cheese & fruit danish if you think about it.

With no power, no tv, no computer husband took off his shoes and promptly fell asleep on the couch at 7:30. (So that's what they do when they're unplugged!) I on the other hand chose to light more candles and sit down with my knitting, specifically the Baby Bobbi Bear I've been working on for my niece.

It's getting there, slowly but surely. I think my low-light knitting came out ok. It's funny how just 2 days before I had told Tracy at knitting that when I work on this I need to work on this and this alone. No tv, no podcasts, just me and Bobbi, counting and knitting and counting and knitting. So it was ideal for the no tv knitting caused by the power outage.

Because the no power night hasn't been the only crisis this week lately when I come home at night I feel like by the time I get to sit down and knit for a minute the brain pretty much resembles jelly at that point. I don't want to count, or follow a chart or even instructions, all I want to do is get some sticks and string in the hands and watch either a) Emmet Smith shake his booty b) someone cooking something (anything) or c) any one of my favorite shows chock full of animated characters and sass. The result of said jelly brain is my current sock

These are going to be a Christmas gift for my dad. They're Louet Gems yarn I purchased at Stitches East. The pattern is a garter rib pattern from the Sensational Knitted Socks book. Nice easy going 4 stitch pattern. Perfect for jelly brain knitting.

But things really aren't so bad. Just stressful. And there's a short work week this week, followed by my favorite holiday of all time, the throwdown food event of the year- THANKSGIVING!!! I love Thanksgiving. This year I get to cook and I love it. My spreadsheets and recipes and schedules are all ready to go. I really, really hope everyone has a great one this year and that you all get to totally enjoy the day. Eat lots of food, settle in, watch the parade or football or both, kiss your family/your friends/your dog/cat, and forget all your crises at least for one day.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The rest of the Stitches stash arrived!

It's pouring out, I have a lovely cup of tea, the husband is praying in the front of the tv in the living room (the NY Jets have a particularly difficult row to hoe this afternoon, a snarky, sarcastic wife might have said impossible... who moi?) and I have the computer all to myself.

In the comments from the last post, Jodi at A Caffeinated Yarn asked some really good questions about colors and yarn of the Main St. pullover from WEBS, specifically "How did they look in real life? Do you think the texture would be OK for Fair Isle?" Knitting minds must think alike. When I first saw this sweater in their catalog my concerns were exactly the same!

I really became drawn to this pattern after seeing all the gorgeous patterned yoke sweaters on the Zimmermaniacs blog. Oh my goodness have you looked over there? It's like it's difficult for them to make something that's not nice, I really like so much of that stuff. It's inspired me to re-read Knitting Without Tears and I'm so glad I did. I get more out of it everytime I read it. If I was a true Zimmermaniac I would have sharpened my pencil and done some math and tried to come up with my own Zimmerman sweater. I might eventually some day but for now, I'm still a Zimmermaniac poser and will just try to start out with my little Main St. sweater and see how I do.

Anyway, when I first saw this in the catalog, I was particularly concerned about the main color which is called "Grape Jelly." Being a bigger girl, I'm always a little self conscious about the purple. I love purple, but purple is also the color of Barney the Dinosaur and Grimace from McDonalds (for you old school folks) and this usually makes me hesitant to wear something called "Grape Jelly." So yesterday, when the weather was better I took the yarn out to my porch which is wear the light is usually the best and tried to capture a really accurate picture of these colors

I'll be the first to admit my photographic shortcomings, but I promise you I think this photo is pretty accurate, I think may be more accurate than the WEBS photo above. Now that I've seen the sweater completed at Stitches and have the yarn here I know the name is a complete misnomer and I adore the color. I suppose there are some purple tones there, maybe it is a bit of a purplish-red but it's definitely no "Grape Jelly." If it were up to me it would have been a Merlot, I'd like that a lot better. As far as texture goes I agree this is definitely not the normal wooly-texture I would expect from a fair isle sweater. The gauge is 5 sts. to the inch and the yarn is way, way softer and actually a lot more light weight than I would have expected. But I kind of like that and hopefully when I'm knitting it and have it done I still will. We shall see as time progresses I hope to start this one soon (the holiday knitting must end eventually after all) so I will have some more color & progress photos then.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The State of the Stash

The stash has grown considerably. Thanks to the fiber-related event of the weekend...

That's the lovely but blogless Amy, me in the middle and Tracy of LeftiesK2 posing mid-spree at the Market at Stitches East yesterday. I go to Stitches every year. You can take classes, but I don't, I usually just go and shop and that's about all the bank account can take. But that's ok. Stitches used to be in Atlantic City for us, which was closer of course. This year it was in Baltimore which is further, but still ok, because this year it was much, much bigger. So of course you know I just had to buy that much more...

See, I'm already trying to pack it up and get it in the closet to hide the evidence! I purchased a few different patterns. Buying patterns is always a good strategy, you can always buy yarn later, and if you're not going to knit it right away it takes much less room in your stash! The silvery thing in the upper left is one of those silky little sock-knitting sized bags from Lantern Moon I've always wanted (I totally adore it and don't know why I didn't order it sooner.) Tracy got mad because she had picked this one up before I saw it and then realized it was the color I wanted when it was in her hand. Bad timing I guess, but she didn't want to buy one so hey! Gimmie!Anyway, I also got the new book from Stitchy McYarnpants which is hilarious! And it was nice that we also got to meet Stitchy and she signed our books! She was very, very sweet and down to earth (aren't most knitters?) and I gushed that I've been reading her blog way before the book was even mentioned. Definitely check it out if you've never read it, it always cracks me up. I got a nice sweater kit from Shelridge farms that I can't wait to make (more on that when it gets knitted.) And then there was the down fall I purchased.

10 skeins.

10 skeins of sock yarn.

I spent a good part of the next day after the big spree shaking my head and muttering that to myself over and over. There are a couple missing from the picture- one is a gifty skein for a friend, and also one of the skeins of the Louet Gems has already been cast on and is being swatched. I have to start these socks for my dad soon! But still, 10 skeins? Where did I lose my head? I set out to get some more 'masculine' sock yarn colors because I have a few men I realize I could be knitting socks for as gifts yet had no manly sock yarn in the stash to speak of. So I guess it's ok, I did purchase mostly along those lines. And the lavendar is probably going to be for my mom later in the year for some birthday socks.

And then I finally purchased this much needed item.

It's a doubled pointed needle case from Crippenworks. I've been stalking this website for awhile but never saw an available fabric that really spoke to me. So it was a great opportunity to see her booth at the show, because she had a ton of cases available in a bunch of different fabrics. This case is so professional and well made I just can't get over it. And my double points totally deserve it, they've been riding around in a pitiful ziploc bag for way too long. It was almost a tragedy.

Oh and did you think I should have bought more? Ok cause I did. I also bought a bunch of yarn from WEBS to make their new Main Street pullover pattern. They had sold out of the yarn for it though, so I bought it and it will be shipped to me later this week. So there is stash that has been added that has not even yet to be seen. So I think I did good. I like what I got. And the more I think about it, the more I'm thinking I'd kind of rather be knitting right now:) Toodles all...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The state of the holiday knitting...

Big Vinny's big socks are done. And I'm happy about it. I like how they came out, but I was really starting to get a little tired of all the gray stockinette...

Then I have a large dishcloth on the needles, almost finished, I'll probably get this off the needles during The Amazing Race tonight.

It's another Sugar and Cream cotton dishcloth. This is one of the larger tea-towel sized ones I like. It looks really big because they do shrink when washed but they still stay really nice. I know I sound like a broken record but I cannot convey what nice gifts these knit towels make. If I think of all the people I have to give to this holiday that would probably like them I know there's no way I could ever do it. A couple of weeks ago my mother said she'd like a few more (as in-in addition to the ones she already has) for Christmas. When I asked her if she wanted large or small she definitively answered"One large and two small." Hmm, talk about being specific! There's a lot of possibilities with these cloths too. Think about it, you could make a couple of small washcloth sized ones and put them with some fancy soaps or bath salts. Or make a large cloth and put it in a basket with fresh baked goods or homemade candy, wouldn't that look so nice?

I also started another gift this weekend

It's a little brown teddy bear butt that hopefully will eventually be the Baby Bobbi Bear from Blue Sky Alpacas

Pray for me people, you know I'll need it. I have a bad history of knitted toy experiences, no one does know what ever became of that poor rabbit... But so far so good with this one, it seems to be more shaping than seaming so far so we'll see.

So I'm making progress, feeling good about the holiday knitting so far. Although I am now conscious of the fact that Christmas is less than 2 months away. My strategy? Prioritization. Some projects may have to be cut from the team. So I have my list, and I'm doing pretty good on the absolutely must make gifts. I have to finish the cloths for my mom, the bear (which is for my niece of course) and then I want to make a pair of socks for my dad. But once those things are done there's a whole other round of possibilities. Gifts that if I have time I will make. We'll see though, I'm not one for knitting under pressure. I'm sure the closer I get the better that rack of gift cards at my grocery store is going to start to look...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

It's hard to photograph black...

But that won't stop me from sharing the joy with you that this hat is finally finished!

It's Vinny's black stockinette hat!

Yarn: Black Encore worsted I had left over from a sweater I knit pre-blog. Yep, it's that old!

Pattern: A variation of this pattern which I have knit before. I understand this is also a variation of an Elizabeth Zimmerman Pattern. I changed it a lot though, first of all to be the 120 stitches to fit around Vinny's large pumpkin-sized noggin. Then I also modified the tops of the hat.

There are 2 tops because all in all the hat is really shaped like this

which would now that I think of it make a pretty decent pillow if you stuffed it with something. But it is not a pillow it is a hat you can wear one of 2 ways, punch one side in the other and get the starfish shaped smooth side

or punch the other in the other side for the gathered top

which when on a head really does not look as ruffled and girly as it might here. It stretches fairly smooth and I actually like it better than the other side. So there's versatility too. I think he'll like it. It's black, it's warm. Those are usually his major fashion criteria. But not until Christmas though, it's one more thing to put under the tree of course!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What I did last week when I wasn't knitting

The main reason I visited Orlando? Well to visit the cutest niece in the world of course!

Oh yeah, and to also visit her mom- my sister. Baby is getting so big and is walking and is a total wiggle worm! She does not sit still for 2 seconds!

That's a little baby walker she's leaning on, she pushes it all over the place more than she uses it to help her walk. Walker or toy fish? Walker or toy fish? Oh they're both so fun, you can't put either of them down!

Of course you know other than the relatives, Disneyworld is also in Orlando. And we are a Disney family. And even more than just being a Disney family, we are a food family too. So how lucky are we that we got to attend da-da-da-da-

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival!!! Oooh... Aahhh... Ohhhh... So, so, so wonderful, if you are ever in a 100 mile radius of Epcot during the month of October you must must must go. All over the international showcase there there are little booths representing all different countries selling food. For $2-$4 you can either purchase a small food or wine tasting.

One example would be Greece

where you can get lovely greek salad with feta cheese and pita and spanakopita which is a wonderful flaky pastry filled with spinach. Yum!

Another big hit was Poland

Pierogies, kielbasa and sauerkraut and a sweet, thick honey wine which was delicious. There were also empanadas in Argentina, dumplings in China, Guinness and lamb stew in Ireland, sushi in Japan, curry in India and escargot and champagne in France. And honestly the quality of the food was also so excellent. Everything we ate was good. And it was such a treat just tasting everything, and tasting all the wines too:) We thought we had died and gone to food heaven.

The other Disney thing I got to do during my visit? I met up with a friend from high school and we walked the entire length of Downtown Disney. Going in all the stores. Ok, we mainly went through all the toy stores. You know when you shop on vacation, that charge card comes out of your wallet so much more easily....

See, now I have fulfilled my vision. I now own a Star Wars lego X-Wing fighter and more importantly 6 mini-figurines including Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewie, Luke and Wedge. Yay! And let me tell you, every 7 year old boy watched breathlessly as I made my way around the lego store, debating just which Star Wars lego set to get. In addition to the set I also got these

Aren't they cute? The young Obi-Wan keychain is mine. Harry Potter and Dumbledore are for the husband. I want to enter him in the Guiness Book of Worlds records as the biggest (physically) Harry Potter fan around. I really wonder sometimes...

So not much knitting stuff to mention. I'm plugging away on those big projects and am hoping to maybe finish one this weekend and be able to share. Yep, finishing up one of those would be a good thing.

Oh and PRGE participants- Saturday night I'm dragging this old butt out out to ye olde punk rock show. We're going to lovely Asbury Park, NJ to see Ignite, Pennywise and the Circle Jerks. Woo hoo!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Thank you secret pal!

Look what I received today from my terrific pal in the Punk Rock Gift Exchange! The yarn is the perfect colors for me. Purples and reds with tinges of brown and mauve. So pretty, my crappy camera really isn't doing it justice. I didnt' find a tag with any details but the yarn is very soft, I'm thinking it might be merino or have some silk blended in maybe? And it looks like it would be a good weight for socks, but really the colors are so pretty, I'm thinking if I knit it up as another lace scarf that could also be very nice. Along with the yarn was a pretty card with a sweet note saying hi! Some great Australia postcards to add to my postcard collection (it's a collection at this point, it really is, I've finally admitted that and I love it. I love the idea of a postcard collection, but I digress...) A big ol' bar of Cadbury milk chocolate which is coming into work with me tomorrow to aid me in my Monday survival-such a necessary comfort, thank you, thank you. Also there is some wonderful Madura tea and Quince Paste. I really like these two items especially because I love trying new things and these come from where you are and I would never, never come across them in my daily life here. And of course how sweet my pal also sent the purple fish toy for Allister which he's dragged up and down the stairs like 3 times already! And did you notice everything was color-coordinated with the purple too? Even the box it came in is blue and purple striped. How thoughtful! Thanks again secret pal!

On another note- I just got home today from a 5 day trip to Orlando to visit my sister and do some Disney stuff:) I know I never even mentioned I was going away (bad blogger bad!) But there will be a follow-up post since there's some kind of interesting stuff to share. Later in the week-first I'm going to try to dig out from the pile of laundry I brought back with me and have a cup of this lovely tea...

Monday, October 09, 2006

The purse is done!

This was a kit from a company called Pussycat2 (the 2 should be raised, like 'Pussycat squared'). I purchased it at Stitches East last year and like I had mentioned before there were a few bumps in the road. Maybe other people have had better experiences with this company but I just happen to think that at $45 (plus $10 for additional yarn + shipping I had to order on my own) I just expected things to go a little more smoothly than they did. Even though I was not able to located Pussycat2 on the internet they are listed as a vendor for the upcoming Stitches East this November. And even though the finished product is very cute and I'm pretty happy with the bag itself I doubt I will be getting another kit this year. In addition to the problems I had along the way (running out of yarn, the embroidery was so poorly charted) the fact that there really was not that much knitting involved in this at all is probably what would be the end dealbreaker for me. It was a good intarsia session, and it was good to be challenged a little, but in the end I spent more time weaving in ends, seaming the pieces together and sewing the lining in than I did actually knitting. I'm glad I did it, I now know the basics of sewing in a lining and I have a cute bag to take out here and there. But unfortunately I doubt I'll be making any further purchases at their booth this year. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to spread my yarn money around elsewhere!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Who's a lucky girl? I'm a lucky girl!

Look what I got from my super cool knitters tea swap gifter Anne! A beautiful red tea mug from the Republic of Tea which I seriously think may be my new most favorite thing. It's so pretty and it has a lid which is fabulous as sometimes I do get pulled away from my cup and then come back and it's cold and that's a bummer. I also got some lovely Taos yarn in gorgeous fall colors. You know the first thing I thought of when I saw those colors-maybe another Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf? I'm thinking maybe... the yarn keeps talking to me... I also got a very cute kitty calendar just in time-for some reason I keep having to look up dates in 2007 this week and haven't had a new calendar yet, an adorable kitty bookmark and a pretty little bead stitchmarker, which I think will be just perfect for keeping track of the beginning of the round when I knit socks. What neat stuff! It was also really neat meeting Anne as part of this swap, she has a great sense of humor, her emails really made me laugh a few times and I look foward to reading her blog and seeing her around blogland!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Purse Assembly- Take 2

After much cursing and stitching, and probably not as much knitting as I would like, the little purse is finally complete. No final pictures though, I finished after dark and the lighting was crappy! I promise next weekend there will be a proper photo shoot and full look at the final outcome. Then maybe I'll have some resolution to the debate in my head over whether or not this was all worth it. Til then...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Big Guy

I don’t know how the husbands in your corner of the world are, but here, in this house, the husband is one big guy. My husband is a towering 6 foot 5 inches tall, taller, if he needs a haircut that day. If you saw him in person you would agree, this makes him one big guy. Navigating light fixtures and doorways you and and I probably never think twice about, is a normal part of his everyday life. Small old ladies ask him to reach for stuff off the high shevles in the grocery store all the time. When he eats cereal for breakfast he prefers to eat it from a mixing bowl than a regular bowl. The regular bowl needs too many refills for him. Airplane seats and many "average" car seats can be nightmares. Someone on the New York Subway once saw Vinny in his New York Jets jacket and told him he’s been playing well. Obviously, the person was a little disoriented.

Yes, the husband is a big guy, he’s a big guy with a big heart. And I love it. First of all he gives the best hugs in the world ever. Everyone always agrees. He has big arms and when he hugs you he really pulls you in and hugs you and instantly your day has improved. Second, he makes me feel safe. Vinny is friendly and funny, but a lot of times guys who first meet him sometimes look him up and down and may laugh a little nervously. Seriously, who is going to mess with this guys wife? But really most of the time, everyone who meets Vinny ends up loving him. See what happened at a friends wedding we recently attended? That's the groom getting mushy all over my husband.

And I also love that he’s a big guy because I am a big girl. And in a society that makes women my size feel pretty lousy a lot of the time, next to Vinny I can feel somewhat small and more feminine than that dumb old society would have me believe. Although don’t worry, most of the time I am woman hear me roar!

So what am I going to do about making this special guy some special Christmas gifts? The knitting gets interesting here. It’s a relief that he doesn’t like sweaters. Sweaters don’t always look great on big guys anyway, they can look kind of lumpy and soft. It might sound cruel but the truth is I've really only knit for my husband once so far. I made him a pair of socks last winter. Just one pair. And they were boring, k2p2 ribbing white acrylic. Why haven't I made any since? Well honestly, the things I knit for him can take longer than others...

The magazine is provided for scale. Vinny wears a size 15 shoe. That sock I'm knitting? 80 stitches around. At 80 stitches around the leg takes a very, very, very long time. There are times I knit for hours and look down to discover that I've added on a whopping quarter of an inch.

So since we're not doing sweaters, and he refuses to wear scarves (he thinks they're too girly) the other thing I'm trying to make is a hat. How big is the hat? Well, I measured his head around. It's 24 inches. I have a pattern book I like to use for hats. It only goes up to 23 inches around. Only slightly smaller than those large stone ones they've unearthed from ancient times on Easter Island. This means the hat that I am knitting for him is a lovely 120 stitches around.

I know it's all curly and flouncy now. The white yarn is the provisional cast on I'm using. I knit the hat and the pick up then live stitches and basically knit the hat again, and put one inside the other for a double knit hat. I know it sounds weird, it's a pattern I've used before, I'm told it's based on an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern. Don't worry, I'll show you how I do it, I'm sure there will be other progress photos since this may take a while. Let's just hope I can make it before the holidays. I have other people to knit for too you know!

* One more thing- did you happen to catch the little kitty butt in the doorway of the first picture? Yeah, he loves Vinny too, they're pretty much a pair. He follows him everywhere. The cat at a very un-graceful 18 pounds is a big guy too. I should try harvesting the cat hair to knit with shouldn't I? I'd probably get skeins and skeins and skeins!