Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Acrylics anonymous

This is my husband's aunt Sylvia-

In addition to being an excellent cook, an intelligent and attractive woman, an excellent hostess, and someone with some very, very interesting stories to tell, Sylvia is also a knitter. Ahh yes... She's one of us. But if you ask me Sylvia is far from your regular, run of the mill every day knitter. Sylvia knits amazing, original gorgeous things and makes them look effortless. Sweaters with amazing cables or gorgeous lacework that are often original designs. She's not really one for patterns. She's been knitting so long she kind of improvises a lot. Everytime I see her and her husband in the winter inevitably one of them is wearing one of her sweaters. And she must knit a lot because I really don't think I've ever seen the same sweater twice. And this weekend I realized almost every sweater Sylvia knits is knit with acrylic. She hates wool, she finds it too itchy and too expensive. And honestly her work is often so gorgeous and intricate, I don't see how the acrylic part would ever bother anybody.

Recently, she invited me to go with her to her favorite yarn store Smiley's Yarns. I had heard of Smiley's before. Apparently they often have huge sales in Manhattan where they'll have a large party room in a hotel just filled with bags and bags of yarn at unbelievable prices. Last Saturday Sylvia and I visited their store in Woodhaven, Queens. Yes, most of what they sell is acrylic. But-I found most of it to be really, really nice acrylic. And looking at all those great colors, soft yet washable, so very inexpensive, well of course... I totally caved...

Yep, that's what we would call a yarn haul. Whoa. But then again, it's really not as bad as it looks, I promise. Here's how it breaks down.

The red Patons Canadiana is for a sweater for me. Possibly another top down raglan like the one I'm working on now.

The black Filati Cervinia, is for a short sleeve cardigan I've been coveting forever. It looks like there's a lot of it because it is dk weight and I wanted to be certain I would not run out of yarn. Yeah, that's it...

The pink Bernat Satin is for a sweater for my niece.

And the gray Bernat Sox is for a pair of socks for my hubby.

And the size dpns I needed for the sleeves to finish the sweater I'm working on now. Yep, it is a lot of yarn, but honestly it was so cheap. And the store was awesome. So well organized, really like not a single skein out of place. And so much of each yarn, which really is a treat for me, one of the reasons I order online so much is it's hard to find a yarn I like and enough of it for a whole sweater in some of the smaller stores. But I didn't have that problem at Smiley's! So I treated myself. I got to spend a lovely afternoon with Sylvia, have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Queens, and make friends with my inner acrylic appreciater.

Hello. My name is Jana and sometimes I like to knit with acrylic...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Thanks Secret Pal!

So last night I got home to find not one but two- yes two packages there for me from my Secret Pal! Oh boy! The first-

Peeps hearts and Hershey's Peanut Butter kisses which I have been dying to try! Yum! Those adorable little Clover needleholders that look like tiny sweaters- they are so cute and will definitely aid me with getting some of these needles organized better. I also got 2 pairs of cushy warm socks from Lane Bryant (one of my favorite stores of course!) A de-stress facial mask which I could definitely use some de-stressing lately. A cool Sanrio Pen and some post-it flags to help with marking patterns. I'm already going to start using them on the Branching Out pattern, they should be a big help.

And as if that weren't enough there was also Box #2!

This box has some lovely green chenille and Fun Fur in 3 cool colors -red, green & purple (sorry the color's a little off in this photo. Oh and a tape with music that I'm dying to listen to at work tomorrow. Everything is great, it was so neat to get home and have packages to open and see all this great stuff I can't wait to use. Thank you Secret Pal!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Works in Progress

I have to admit I've been holding back a little. I haven't posted any pictures of the sweater I've been working on? Why? I guess because it's not that exciting, it's a very simple, traditional top down raglan.

But that's really not fair either. While it's not the most exciting sweater in the world I have to admit I love it!!! It's not for me, but I am really enjoying knitting it, the Cascade 220 is great to work with and it's just so cool how the simple increases create the yoke, and then I can just knit the body and the arms straight down, and the best part of course- there won't be any seaming in the end!!!! Woo hooo!!! That will definitely be a treat!

So there haven't been many progress pictures of that because it really is just knitting, knitting, knitting, but I will post more down the road, maybe when I get the ribbing or a sleeve done, definitely when it's finally finished.

The way I usually pick what I'm working on is I usually have one mindless repetitive project going (the sweater right now) that I can knit in public. I do belong to 2 knitting groups and we tend to get a little chatty:) so it's best if I'm not working on something that requires counting or too much brainpower during those times. (My brainpower is already somewhat limited to begin with, and we know definitely do not ask me to do math while I'm knitting, my brain will explode someday I swear!)

On the other hand I usually do have another project going that might require some attention, or just be there to distract me once in awhile. A lot of time it's socks but the other day I started this beautiful thing

Ok, so it hasn't realized it's full "beauty" potential yet, blocking will help a lot when it's done. This is the Branching Out pattern from Knitty. I'm not using either of the recommended yarns, I'm using the Andean Silk I had leftover from the cardigan I made a few months ago. Which makes me verrry happy, because this is one of the yarns I had in my stash, only 300 yards or so that I had no idea what the heck I was going to do with it. So I'm happy I came across this pattern I had admired a few times already. So another beautiful thing- it's stashbusting! (Yay Karin!!!!) And you have to think that at $3.29 a ball, if I had bought the yarn for this scarf it would have cost me under $10. It's a beautiful thing....

El Jorongo yarn

Ahh the 3 day weekend. Such a beautiful thing. The laundry is done, I've gone to the gym, ran my errands and now I can spend the rest of my Monday off listening to podcasts and knitting. Yay!

Anyway, so now I finally have some time to blog and can show pics of the yarn I received from El Jorongo the other day. This package came to my office.

Wow. That's a lot of yarn. So that night while watching the Olympics I set up the ball winder and put it together in several 50 yard balls. This is yarn from the Criollo sheep which are indigenous to Mexico and South America. I picked the natural undyed color because I wanted it to be really authentic and representative of where it came from and how it was made.

Yeah... Did I say it was a lot of yarn? Umm, yep, it's a lot of yarn. So I have to admit when I first got it, well, I kind of had some doubts. First of all, it just looked like so much, I saw all my stash reducing prospects go right out the window. But then when I balled it up I realized there really isn't that much of it. I figure there's between 1200 and 1500 yards, and it is pretty bulky stuff. But then I thought about it, knit a swatch, blocked it and really started to like it. While it's not the smooth, overly processed type of fiber we see here all the time, it is very warm and after blocking my swatch it is actually very soft and has a nice bit of fuzz to it.

And then I was actually happy because I realized I may actually already have a pattern picked for this yarn. It's funny because I've wanted to make this pattern each time I've looked at it I figured the yarn would be really expensive, so now it looks like since I already have the yarn I might actually be able to make this pattern after all.

This is The Einstein Coat, in Sally Melville's book The Knit Stitch. I've heard so many people rave about the pattern and the finished product, and it does look fun to do. I like complex knitting sometimes, but I also really love the mindless, garter stitch, relaxing listening to podcast, watching tv knitting too. So we'll see, I have the couple of projects I'm working on now, but once they're done there's a strong possibility this will be the next project on the needles.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Blizzard of 2006!

Yay! Snow! I know, a lot of people hate snow but I usually don't mind. It's pretty conducive to some of my favorite activities, curling up with cup of tea, sitting down with a good knit, catching some Olympic Hockey. That's how it usually goes. This weekend unfortunately is a different story.

Work??? Ewww! I know, but hopefully my nightmarish deadline really is going to be tomorrow finally and things should lighten up quite a bit after that. If however the necessary people are not able to attend tomorrow as planned because of the 'Blizzard of 2006' and things get postponed then you can probably anticipate more whining... So I guess between work this weekend and going outside to shovel like 8 million times (I don't always like the shoveling part) I'm a little cranky. Sigh...

Anyway, for some knitting content though someone asked last time what I like to use the Lily Sugar and Cream yarn for. Well, I use it for washcloths.

Well, washcloths, dishcloths. You could use them for whatever you want. This one is folded in quarters and will probably get used for a washcloth. This is one of my favorite patterns. It is called the Honeycomb Dishcloth and can be found here in the knitting patterns. However the picture does not really convey just how cool these cloths really are. Like I said you can use them as washcloths or dishcloths, my favorite thing personally is to tweak the pattern a little and make them big, like what some people call tea towels, and just keep them near the sink. The yarn is a laughable $1.49 in most big craft stores (one ball makes one cloth), it comes in every color and variegation under the sun and the cloths are just fun to make. There a great, cheap opportunity to maybe try something new like cables or lace patterns with little pressure, and trust me there's just something about them-everyone I've given them too has always come back and asked me for more!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A knitting group on the road...

So I finally finished these from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch.

Sorry for the crappy grey photo. I've been working a ton of hours lately and not often home in time to catch any natural light for pictures. Anyway, I did finally get used to the really stretchy Cascade Fixation yarn and actually felt pretty comfortable with it. I probably will use it again at some point, it's a stretchy/cottony type sock that would be perfect to wear in summer or in warmer climates. (hmmm...) And I'm happy with the stitch pattern, it was pretty easy and kind of cute I think. But it's onwards and upwards with this book, with stitch patterns that go up to 12 stitch repeats, it will probably be awhile before I knit any plain old stockinette socks again.

In other knitting news last night my knitting group spent some time at a local nursing home.

This outing was coordinated by Tracy who I knit with (hi Tracer!) and her mom. Tracy's mom is an activities director at this nursing home near where we meet each week and they thought it might be nice if we dropped by one night for a Stitch and Bitch with the ladies. It was a great night, chatting with the women, some knew how to knit or crochet already but just wanted reminding or just wanted to see what we were working on. One woman was just happy to sit and wind some yarn into balls and just chat with us. All in all it was pretty rewarding and entertaining. A few of the women mentioned they'd like us to come back sometime. I think that is probably the sign of a successful evening.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Torino... And beyond...

I really thought I might have some finished objects to post today but seeing as I'm still in my bathrobe more than half way through the morning and am nowhere near the intended casting off, I'm throwing in the towel and figure I'll just divert your attention with something else. Something that I do feel needs to be addressed. This would be the upcoming Knitting Olympics.

(Cue trumpet music)

How neat is it that there is going to be a Knitting Olympics???? Now for some reason I have been been totally psyched about the upcoming Athletic Olympics for weeks. (Note how I need to call the Torino games the Athletic Olympics now, because the Knitting Olympics have already gotten so huge, and I don't want you to get the two confused) Anyway, it's surprising for me to be excited about the Athletic Olympics because I'm not a very athletic person myself and most people think there is already more than enough sports viewing going in this house. But I don't know there's just something about it, I feel like the Athletic Olympics is one of the few places where people are still competeing from sheer love of sport. Not for the fame or the fortune. I don't imagine too many people competeing in the luge or curling or women's hockey have many groupies. But these people still go out there and give it their all, and manage to become the best of the best.

Knitters also do not have groupies. Sigh... But they should. Especially Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka Yarn Harlot who has given us this wonderful gathering called the Knitting Olympics. Stephanies blog is a usual must read in and of itself, but this Knitting Olympics is just taking it to a whole new level. Anyway the concept is you cast on a new, challenging project during the Opening Ceremonies and must be finished by the Closing Ceremonies. Pretty neat. And the coolest thing? A few days ago the number of people participating reached over 2500!

That is more than the number of actual olympians in the Athletic Olympics.


Unfortuately I am not taking part. I currently find myself with 2 projects I'm smack in the middle of and well, I'm just taken with them. Sigh... The Knitting Olympics are not in sync with my current project schedule at all. Drat! However, I have posted a little button in the sidebar to show my support (I really am supportive, despite the sarcasm of the button, it was just my mandatory choice, it has a Simpsons character on it. Hello!) and I guess I'll just hope maybe sometime in the future something similar may come along...

And when it does... I will be ready... (cue trumpet music again)