Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sexy? No. Comfy? Heck yes!

This week I finished knitting what I can only think of as the sock equivalent of granny panties.

Simple short socks knit out of some Cascade 220 I had left over from making a Sophie Bag. I had made socks like this previously out of acrylic but they weren't as warm as I had hoped, so these are wool and I tightened the gauge up a little bit and I love 'em. And the Cascade really does have quite a depth of color, you might not be able to tell from the picture but the purple really does have little tones of red and blue here and there that make this such a great color. I know the design isn't sexy but hey, it's January and here in Jersey we have some frosty days. Actually today happens to be a lovely miserable gray that could only be compared to like British fog meets a Bauhaus song meets a hangover. This is my interpretation of the weather today. Makes me glad to be staying inside and knitting!

So there's some big football game coming up next weekend (I don't know if it's true or not, I just heard it somewhere...) and for some reason this has come to mark the big yarn/craft store sale season around here. (It's like being a football widow is so pitiful, the yarn stores even feel bad for me... Sigh...) So yesterday I went to the LYS where I purchased my ball winder and got myself a swift at a lovely 20% off. Woo hoo! Then I had the nerve to keep going so I went to A.C. Moore which I forgot was hosting the "Knitting and Crochet Party" (it was insane, the knitters had like lampshades on their heads and the crocheters kept doing Tequila shots and picking fights with each other) so I just picked up a few little things and went on my merry way.

Yay washcloth yarn! The lavender Sugar & Cream doesn't translate that great in the photo but trust me it is sooo pretty. The other items are supplies for stitchmarkers themed after guess which holiday coming up? No, not President's Day...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ok purist maybe, elitist no way!

Ok so a lot of it's true, but I don't think I'm a yarn snob, after all I did make the cat bed from Stitch and Bitch out of Fun Fur!

Knitting Purist
You appear to be a Knitting Purist.
You are an accomplished knitter producing beautiful
pieces with a classic feel. You sometimes
lament losing half of your local yarn shop to
garish novelty yarns. Perhaps you consider
fun fur scarves the bane of knitting society
and prefer to steer new knitters towards the
wool and cotton blends. Some might call you a
bit of an elitist but you know that you've
been doing this craft long enough to respect
the history behind it and honor it with
beautiful piece that can last a lifetime.

What Kind of Knitter Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I'm back!

Back from a great visit with my sister and her husband and my new niece! You know as soon as I got there I made my sister open her birthday gift first thing! I had gotten her a few things she wanted for the house, and of course made her the socks she had been asking for for months.

Oh and after I made her socks I had some of the yarn left over so you know what I had to do with that!

These were for my beautiful niece Adelaida. Now just a footnote: the yarn is Knitpicks sockgarden yarn in Daffodil. I am aware that these are colors that might make a normal person somewhat woozy, but again if you know my sister, you know that orange is a big favorite color for her, and just the orange and the green and yellow in this yarn, well, it was meant to be. While my sister's socks are a pretty straightforward, basic sock pattern, Addy's were a different story. This pattern is the Hugs and Kisses Better than Booties Baby Socks which involved this way intricate short row heel and toe thing I had never done before. All with a special zig zag bindoff. Yeah, I know, it even sounds hard. On the first one I did the toe 3 times before getting it right. Now, I don't know as much as a lot of knitters out there, but still I had not been this challenged in a long time. So much so that honestly, that second little baby bootie almost did not get made. But it was worth it I guess. I learned from it. Also in the end it was worth it of course, just to see this...

Oh they're so cute! They just make all that frogging and swearing worth it! Oh and for anyone paying attention this yarn was the issue I had at the beginning of December where I didn't think it was going to come in time for me to get the socks done for my sister's birthday and stuff. Knitpicks had said the delivery would take 5 to 19 days. Of course, being December you know that package had to come on, yep, the 19th day. But still I love Knitpicks, just look at that picture? How could you not?

So I spent a lot of time in Florida just catching up with my new niece and my sister, cooking, eating, knitting, taking lots of lots of pictures.

Sorry, I had to include that one too, I just thought it was so cute. It's my sister, Adelaida and my mom. My mom by the way was a really good sport and did accompany me to the one yarn store I visited. She is a non-knitter but always a very good recipient of knitted gifts and a pretty well behaved companion for yarn crawls. Which I imagine must be pretty boring for them. It's like if I ever had to accompany my husband to a football store, or like a Lord of the Rings store if they existed, I would probably be reciting nuptials over that. But my mom is pretty good. We took a drive out to Sip and Knit in Maitland. A really neat little shop, the people working there were very friendly and there was a pretty good selection. Knowing that whatever I purchased needed to go in my suitcase somehow, my purchases were somewhat limited, but I am nonetheless very enthusiastic about them.

Sock yarn ahh, lovely sock yarn. Two kinds I have not seen in any stores around here. I love the stripey one, it's like a brown and green and cream mix and the one on top is actually a dark burgundy. (I know this is a not good low lit picture) I bought the chibi more because I had lost my tapestry needle somewhere in my luggage, needed another and also figure this case might be a big help so I don't lose more needles in the future. I also did a little shopping for my secret pal too. I hope she likes what I have to send!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Vacation all I ever wanted...

Signing off for a few days! Tomorrow I'm going to sunny Florida with my mom to meet my new niece (yay!) and celebrate my sister's birthday (just a couple of days late). I'm so excited! I've already got my travel knitting (socks of course) and the camera packed, ready to relax and take lots of pics. Happy knitting all!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

It's done!!!!

My Clapotis is finished! Isn't it pretty! I used 7 1/4 balls of Noro Silk Garden. Regular old size 8 bamboo 29 in circular needles. It's not blocked in these pictures but I just couldn't wait! I really loved this pattern. It was uninvolved enough to do while watching tv or listening to a podcast but involved enough that it was fun to watch the different steps. And I didn't think it would work but it is just like in the pictures, you really could use it as a wrap or a scarf.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Knitting South of the Border

My father and his wife recently spent some time over the holidays touring around Mexico. They actually have a lovely home in a beautiful town there called San Miguel De Allende and this December they finally had some time to get out and explore the surrounding areas. One of the places they visited was the town of P√°tzcuaro where they visted eljorongo a knitting and weaving business that uses wool from local sheep. Just look at these great pictures that my dad sent me

this is dyed wool that has been hung to dry

this is one of the weaving looms

Interesting isn't it? The website for eljorongo is definitely worth checking out. I love where they describe their business and talk about the "team of expert knitters" used to handknit many of their goods. (What do you say Erin, maybe our group could try out for the team? You can be team captain because you can translate :) There's also a section of the website called the art of wool where they have pictures of the team at work.

I emailed El Jorongo today to see if maybe there's a way I could just purchase some of their yarn. Just to see what it's like. Maybe I could get one of those fluffy brightly colored skeins for myself? We'll see, details to follow!

Friday, January 13, 2006

It's Friday!!!!!

And Fridays are great!!!!! Especially when you have a 3 day weekend like me! Yay! And now I'm really in a good mood because I just got the cutest e-card from my secret pal!!! Thank you so much nice person out there! It was so cute!

Well, not much planned for this weekend, I have lunch dates tomorrow and Sunday but other than that I'm really up for just some relaxing and catching up on my knitting. I know it's late for it but this is pretty much my first weekend I get to recover from the holidays. Plus it's been a crazy week because my husband at the young age of 37 somehow managed to get the chicken pox this week! Yes, the chicken pox! We knew he had never had it but never thought about it much until he woke up Monday feeling really sick completely covered in red bumps. He did get to the doctor and has been resting, but it's really knocked the wind out of him so he's still a little out of it. I asked if I could take his picture for the blog but he said no, he's not feeling so pretty I guess.

I do however have a picture from knitting the other night!

As you can see we had some visitors! Four brave guys throwing down the shackles of society and picking up the knitting needles! How cool is that! I love how this picture perfectly captures me on the far left just running my mouth, babbling about knitting (I do this in my sleep now, it's pathetic) and Erin second in from the right looking at me thinking "Jana is telling them the completely wrong way to cast on!" And then there's Chris our resident crocheter on the end smiling and looking cute, trying to pretend it's all normal. Haha!!! But no really, other than me screwing up the casting on lesson it was a great night. We all had fun and the guys were so interested in the knitting and so polite and they really picked it up, even if the instruction might not have been that coherent at times...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

TMI: Too much information!

So my knitting group comrades talked me into doing the Secret Pal program. I think it will be fun. But I had to fill out this questionnaire and well, I don't want to put anyone to sleep here but honestly at times I can be a bit wordy. So my apologies, especially to my Secret Pal who probably never wanted to know this much about me!

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand?
I don't think I am a yarn snob because I do love Lily Sugar and Cream yarn that is like the cheapest thing they sell at most big craft stores. I love this cotton yarn for washcloths which I love making and using, and my family is now addicted to them too! I might however be an acrylic snob. I never use Red Heart, I use Lion Brand sometimes but really not a lot. I don't mind acrylic if it's going to be a good acrylic, I like Plymouth Encore a lot, most often I'll usually use acrylic to knit baby stuff for my new niece a lot. Especially some of the new cushy ones out there by Caron and some of those brands.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?
Don't spin, used to crochet, not so much anymore really. Totally, sadly obsessed with knitting...

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I made the 'roll your own needlecase' from the Stitch and Bitch book. Circulars are in a case I got free at stitches last year, which is really filling up and doesn't do that great a job. And the situation with the double points, well it's just sad. And I use them a lot, I love knitting socks, but they just haven't found a home yet, they live in the very cold and lonely bottom of my knitting bag.

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
Hmm.... On and off since I was a kid. Obsessively for the last 2-3 years. I guess I might be intermediate or advanced intermediate? I'm really not that scared to try anything. Although Fair Isle and lace knitting are both things I have little to no experience with.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yep, Amazon and Knitpicks. Looove the knitpicks....

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
Honestly not a big scent person. Taste, now that's another story! (See question #7)

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Favorite candy? I can't offend the other candies by picking just one! I am a equal opportunity candy lover. Chocolate, fruity, anything really. Although honestly I do have to say I really, really don't like some of the gross ones, like gummy bugs, worms, etc. That's like candy abuse to make it into something gross like that. Really.

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
Umm, cooking would be the big one I guess. Love to cook, the food network is on in this house a lot. That's about it really. It's a good companion to knitting.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I always say I like all kinds of music as long as it's good music. If you look at my cd collection you would immediately say there is a strong punk/alternative/80's connection there. Some bands I guess I'd have to mention would be the Replacements, the Cure, old Liz Phair, Sublime, NOFX, Operation Ivy, Face to Face, Bad Religion. But I also like some country, only the really good stuff though like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Nickel Creek, other bluegrass. And I like the Beastie Boys a lot but I wouldn't say I'm a fan of rap at all. Oh and I also do really like a lot of old jazz and big band stuff, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Louis Prima, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, love, love, love that type of stuff. And I even like some oldies/soul type stuff, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye... See? I could go on and on and on.... I think my computer plays MP3's. I think that's how I listen to the podcasts but I'm not sure...

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
Unfortunately I still wear black like I it's going out of style. But I also really like dark-jewel type colors, purples, reds, greens, etc. Not into anything too bright, and I really don't like yellow or orange that much.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Married for 5 great years. We have an 18 pound cat named Allister and he pretty much rules the roost. It's his world we're just living in it.

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I'm becoming a scarf person since I'm finding so many to knit that I like. It gets cold in Jersey sometimes so I have been known to wear hats and mittens too. As for ponchos, sorry, don't like 'em. I love Martha Stewart (I know I'm like the last one left on earth) but she can leave that poncho at home!

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
Basic wools pretty much. Lamb's Pride, Cascade 220. Also Plymouth Encore. All sock yarns and anything from Knitpicks. And of course, Lily Sugar and Cream for washcloths.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Not to big on the ribbon yarns actually. I knit a couple of pieces with that railroad yarn Plymouth Eros, and honestly they just don't get worn.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?
I'm really obsessed with the new knitting podcasts, Cast-On and Knitcast. They're just so fun and interesting to listen too. And blogs. I could just read blogs for hours and hours.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I guess socks. They're just so portable and fun. I seem to always have a pair on the needles. But I also like sweaters and washcloths and scarves too.

17. What are you knitting right now?
Clapotis in Noro silk garden after all the cool ones I saw on different blogs. And of course, socks.

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Not so much, I just feel like most things handmade I could probably make myself. Although I'm really into stitchmarkers, they would be neat.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
I appreciate both some are good for some projects some for others.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Bamboo/wood and addi turbos are my favorites.

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
A winder yes, a swift not yet, maybe someday...

22. How did you learn to knit?
My godmother taught me when I was 5.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?
Honestly I don't think I have one. I really just have current projects. I don't like to let things build up.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?
Love the Simpsons and South Park and that kind of stuff. Love Hello Kitty. I guess I also like penguins, and I'm hoping to go see the new panda bear in D.C. soon.

25. What is your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving. It's that taste thing again.

26. Is there anything that you collect?
Yarn? Knitting books? Otherwise I guess I collect cookbooks. I have a lot.

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Knitters and Interweave knits.

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?
I would really love some bamboo double points. I have 2's but I'm sure at some point I should have size 1 and size 3. I have double points in 7 and 8 in metal but I'd love to replace them with bamboo. As for patterns I love the knitting pure and simple patterns and fiber trends patterns but only have very few. I'd really like to have more.

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Definitely lace.

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
My feet measure about 9 inches around but I usually will knit a sock for 8 1/2 around so it fits good. And my feet are not small unfortunately. I wear a size 10 and my feet are wide. Gosh, this is embarassing!

31. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
March 20 and I'm a Pices!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Thanks Dad!

Just had to post a little something to give a belated thank you to my dad. I just can't go another day without mentioning all the wonderful Christmas gifts I got from him.

This is a bunch of knitting books I have wanted for a long, long time. Of course the Amazon wish list helped identify them, but I really give my dad credit for buying me knitting related stuff. I can only imagine what goes through the head of a non-knitter when they see these. (Yarn Harlot?) My dad was like "All those books are about knitting?" Yeah dad, they are. I know you don't get it but, trust me, these are really, really, really cool. I haven't taken a picture of them sooner because when the box came I pretty much tore it open and have been devouring them since. I'm a good part of the way into Knit's End already which I'm really enjoying. It's so easy to identify with her writing. It's so nice to see there are others out there who also obsess over, oops I mean enjoy, knitting just as much. :)

Also I'm already planning my first project from the Scarf Style book. This book is absolutely gorgeous by the way, there's just something so beautiful and simple about just such a quality group of scarf patterns like this. So yesterday of course I had to get out there and buy some more yarn!

Specifically the green yarn which is a gorgeous Lana Grossa Merino I'm going to use for the Falling Leaves scarf which I have in mind for a Christmas gift for someone next year. (See? I'm already planning ahead!!) The blue is a terrific Cascade 220 for a neckdown raglan which is another gift for someone. The one on the top is shaped different because I also caved and finally got myself a yarn winder. So much easier than just trying to wind a ball with the yarn wrapped around a chair or my feet or just laying on the floor. And I got some addi turbo needles which I love.

On another positive note I finished the secret gift project I've been working on today and will probably post pictures in the next week or so for the big reveal. (Ooh! Ahh!) This one was tough, I have to say it was a challenge like I haven't had in awhile. But I made it! Going back to Clapotis will be a walk in the park...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

A new year has begun. For the new year a new blog look! The product of much lip biting and and several do-overs I was hoping to make the blog look a little lighter, a little friendlier and more colorful. A color other than pink that is... While I think a new year is a good thing I'm not much of a resolver. I listen to a public jazz station out of Newark at work and one of the dj's I really like was saying that he would not make resolutions but that he had "a few things on the board." And I guess I could say that, I have a few things on the board. Knitting-wise they would definitely be

1. I'm still committed to being more ready for the holidays next year with more knitted gifts for people. I'm trying to make specifics plans of what to give to who and next weekend plan on going to the local lys to try to start to make things happen. Ask me where I'm at in July with this one.

2. Try lace knitting. Again. Yes, my previous attempt may have ended in a flurry of naughty swears and a very pretty ball of laceweight flying through the air but try, try again. There are just too, too many gorgeous patterns (birch, kiri, etc.) taunting me. I have to get in on that, I will weather the swears to make this happen.

3. Try socks on circular needles. This I think will be easier than #2. I'm doing pretty good at the socks lately, they seem to be going pretty quick on the clover toothpicks, I think circulars will be really cool.

4. Be a better blogger. Better photos, better stories, better something. Just better.

On a completely separate note I just wanted to mention I have a link in my sidebar to a podcast called Cast-On hosted by Brenda Dayne. While I do not have an ipod this podcast is definitely my new addiction. Brenda is witty and entertaining and educated and interesting. She plays pod-safe music on her show which I think is really cool in and of itself. These are unsigned artists, putting their music out there for the love of it. And you can just listen to the podcast on your computer just by clicking the link on the website like I do. When the main tv is monopolized by football or some dumb war show or when there's just nothing on the 8 gazillion channels we have (which is 99% of the time) it is just heaven to sit and knit and listen to this show. I know it sounds bizarre, I know my family is concerned about my knitting addiction ("Now she's making up something about a knitting talk radio show???" It's just so sad to see her going on like this...") But I swear it's true and it really exists and if you have the tiniest knitting bone in your body, please check it out, it is really, really just a very cool thing!