Sunday, January 28, 2007

Finally... the cold arrived...

And there were warm items to be worn. The hat... the wristwarmers...

The sweater...

And she was very, very happy...

Who knows how long it will last so better to wear the wool while the getting's good. Right? First off, the hat and wristwarmers.

Yarn: Dreamy, delicious Rowan Chunky Wool. Knits up at a magically delicious gauge of 3 stitches to the inch. Go Speed Knitter Go!

Patterns: The hat from a very beloved standard The Knitters Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd. Easy as pie. The wristwarmers? A quick and dirty ripoff of the Fetching pattern from Knitty. I'm so about the wristwarmers lately. I used to be a big glove lover every winter. I couldn't understand people walking around with cold hands when that was what gloves are for. But this crazy year has been the year of the multitask. Riding in the car? I can't work the ipod with those gloves on! Can't dial the cell phone or get the hands free thingy in my ear. (Even though I secretly hate the cell phone, I really do, and I will see to it's demise one day) But put those wristwarmers on and everybody's happy. And both accessories? Warm as heck of course.

And the sweater?

Pattern: Main St. Pullover from Webs in the recommended Lenox yarn. The yarn knits up pretty fast. Except when I got to that Fair Isle part. There are rows with 3 colors which was new for me. But if you're willing to hang in and make it work I think it's really worth it. With every sweater I knit I really do feel like I learn more each time. And so far I've liked each one better than the last. So yes, this is my current favorite.

Modifications: I added to the bottom and knit it longer, then when it was done, decided it was too long and chopped a bunch off. I also didn't do all of the waist shaping which is now right above the bottom ribbing and I kind of blocked it out anyway. (Better to skip the midsection for me, I don't need anything clinging there, there are issues not worth mentioning) The yarn is very stretchy and drapey. If you knit it and have that cling and don't want it I found it blocks out bigger very easily. And if you need help with the blocking just give me a call and I'll send my blocking assistant Allister over. I dunno, he always promises to help but then a lot of time I find him slacking and just laying down on the job. Literally...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Of plumbers and eating yarn and Fugazi...

I think it's so funny you guys haven't seen the Bloglines plumber yet! Maybe he's like Santa? But no-trust me-he does exist! Maybe I've seen him more because I tend to surf early in the morning when I'm up, like before 7 a.m. early in the morning and maybe they tend to do more maintenance then? But yes, Virginia, there is a Bloglines plumber, keeping the Bloglines pipes clean for us so we get our happy blogfeeds every day...

So the Main St. pullover is done, done, done! I wove in the last of the ends this afternoon and it's all blocked and resting and ready to wear. Too late to get a good photo today though. I'm going to try for a good one next weekend, I promise as soon as I take it I'll have it up and ready.

So this left my main, non-traveling needles empty and I needed to cast-on. But what? So I tried something new last night, I gave my husband a bag of yarn and told him to close his eyes and pick one out at random. He was laughing and asked me why in the world would he need to close his eyes? It's true, it would be like asking me to reach in a bag and pull out a football player. Who cares? They're all the same aren't they? (I promise I'm not that ignorant about football... But not by choice.) Anyway, he pulled out the Misti Alpaca I had gotten a couple of weeks ago so I cast on and tried to do a gauge swatch of the Anemoi Mittens. When I realized the colors were so close I couldn't tell them apart when knitting them I realized it wasn't going to work. So I reached in the bag and pulled out what sounded like maybe it was speaking to me.

Rowan Chunky Print. Yum. This is a hat for me. My dream hat. In my dream yarn. I love this thick, slubby, wooly yarn. This hat will be warm as heck when it's done. I love this yarn so much I want to eat it! It makes me salivate, it really does. Elevating yarn to the level of food? Ok maybe for me, that's not a big step, but this stuff is the real deal. If I could make a sweater out of it I'd love too. But on my ample frame with the yarn's ample gauge it would probably be chunky and unflattering not to mention pretty darn expensive. Sigh... I guess my head will have to have all the fun for now.

And then there's the Fugazi socks.

They're called the Fugazi socks because my favorite song by the band Fugazi? Waiting Room. So there you have it Fugazi socks. And they're going to be my Fugazi socks because just by looking at them we can tell they're not going to fit mom. Way too big. That's ok, her birthday is in April, and I've got some lovely Louet Gems set aside that will be just perfect....

Monday, January 15, 2007

Main St. Monday

Aww shucks. You guys are so sweet. First and foremost thank you for all the kind comments last week about the situations with my mom and the new job. When things get that tough, just hearing a little 'hang in there' once in awhile really means a lot! And thanks also for your patience-I know I haven't been able to comment on a lot of blogs out there lately because things have been so crazy. I worry I'm so behind on Bloglines I'm going to log on one day and there will just be a picture of the Bloglines Plumber guy giving me the finger.

But not yet! So I'm starting to catch up and will hopefully get to read and leave comments for you guys soon too.

Having gotten through last week things are going much better. My mom is doing well, we had her follow up visit with the surgeon today and he gave her the green light to shower and sit up for half hour intervals so she's really psyched about that. Laying flat on your back all the time-not fun at all! And the best part, she is now 10 days into quitting smoking! Now I am the furthest thing from a non-smoking activist or anything like that but for my mom this is a HUGE accomplishment! She's smoked for 46 years and just the fact that she has decided to try to quit is something entirely new for her. So she is now up and walking (and sitting) and making lots of funny and hopeful plans about what she's going to do with all that money she used to spend on cigarettes.

And I have to say as far as the new job goes so far (knock on wood) it's going great. The people are very friendly and patient with a lot of my newbie questions. The office is clean and comfortable (not a luxury I had at the circus tent that tried to pass for an office where I worked previously) and the work seems steady and along the lines of what I want to be doing. So hopefully it keeps up and things are starting to get back to normal.

And I had off work today for the holiday so I thought I was going to finish the Main St. Pullover.

It looks like it could be finished doesn't it? Well, I guess actually I thought I had finished it last night. But as I cast off the stitches at the neck I couldn't help but think that the neck was honestly looking more like a waist. And when I tried it on it was even more true. It was way to open and big and actually pretty floppy and wobbly. Ick. It took me a minute to figure out what I wanted to do but once I did it worked, I pulled out the cast off, picked up the stitches, went down from the size 8 needles to a size 4 (yep a four!), knit another inch on the 4's, did a little decrease row and bound off. Voila! So much better.

But then there was the issue of the bottom. I had decided to lengthen this pattern and for the life of me now I have no idea why. It was like way to long, like long past my butt and totally unflattering. What to do? Once again-rip it out. I chopped off that ribbing, wound yarn from the bottom onto the ball winder until I got to where I wanted, and picked up the stitches again. So tonight I get to start re-knitting the ribbing.

And that's ok. I'd rather go through all this stuff to have the sweater that I really think I'm going to love in the end. So I decided I need to stop this bad habit I have-I get really excited when I think I'm almost finished with stuff. I start to fantasize (I know it's a strong word, but let's face it, it's appropriate) about what I want to knit next. I go over my social calendar and start to think about opportunites to wear the new garment out where someone might notice it and ask where I bought it. (See pure fantasy!) So I need to not do that all the time. Knitting the garment the first time is kind of like a rough draft. It's rare I don't go back and rip out the next or fix the buttonholes, tweaking it here and there. And that stuff takes time. And it needs to be done right.

Oh yeah, you know what else is going to take some time?

A lot of times I weave in ends as I go. This time I've decided to wait until after I block this. The yarn is really stretchy and I don't want to weave them in tightly and end up with a pucker or something like that where I weave them in. So there you have it, you see London, you see France, and now you see the inside of my sweater with all the crazy, hanging-out ends!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Sock I Hate

There was a post a couple of weeks ago where I mentioned I was taking some time off and would be starting a new job soon. Well, the new job starts tomorrow and I feel like I'm ready and rested and excited but I do have to say the two weeks off ended up being like nothing I expected. My mom's back surgery was last Friday and it went ok. We're hoping that we're now through the woods and after some much needed rest and recovery she's going to start feeling somewhat like her original self. Unfortunately, most of the time (and most of my two weeks off) leading up to the surgery were pretty hectic and scary and disastrous all at once. The tests my mom had to have before the surgery raised some suspicions. Which meant more tests were needed. A lot. And the tests have now keyed us into a lung issue which may or may not be turning into a heart issue. When the doctors start talking about lungs and hearts and abnormalities things can get really scary really fast. However, we made it through the tests and it looks like they've ruled out some of the super-bad stuff. For now she's ok, they cleared her for this surgery which was the most pressing thing, and the other issues will have to be dealt with in the future. We're just going to have to wait and see how things go.

But what does this have to do with knitting? Well, let me tell ya, it seems I've had nothing but knitting time lately. Knitting time-the stuff of dreams right? Or so I thought. People, if you're going to get knitting time, you know, well, this is not the way you want to get it. Yes, waiting for someone to have a stress test for their heart will take on average 3 to 5 hours. But the whole time I couldn't help but think it was like a stress test for my heart too! So this little sock has been my sitting in the waiting room for several days sock. And as I sat and waited and knit and waited all I could think most of the time was "Geez, I think I hate this sock."

At first I didn't realize why. It's an ok sock. Toe up, stockinette, the basic stuff. I haven't mastered the toe-up stuff enough yet to eliminate some big holes at the heels but still, it's functional as socks go. And cute, this is my first time using striping yarn like this and I do have to admit it's pretty neat.

But it didn't take very long to realize the problem. I know I'll always associate this sock with worrying about someone I love. And sitting for hours not knowing what's going on down the hall. And waiting for test results. And calling and waiting and not knowing any more than you did and hour ago and calling again and knitting and waiting. And dealing with bitchy nurses, who I know have a really, really tough job, and yes, the majority of them are very nice but when you meet enough of them, well I guess we've just met some real winners this week.

It was funny last night though as I was sitting with my mom knitting this sock I took a minute and tried it on. It fits ok. As we've gotten some more info lately and got through this surgery the hysteria from last week has subsided and of course simultaneously I'm starting to make my peace with the sock. My mom thought it was cute but I said I didn't really like it. And she said, "Really? Who's it for? If you don't want them I'll take them, I wear a lot of brown you know."

How funny would it be if I made my peace with the socks by giving them to my mom? Maybe that would work. I'm not sure, I sized them for me and I have much larger feet than she does. Who knows, I think I'm just going to have to keep going with the socks and let them tell me what's meant to happen with them. In the meantime I've started the Fair Isle section of the Main St. Pullover. Three colors at a time believe it or not. Makes starting the new job tomorrow seem like cake right? You never know...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy New Years All!

I'm going to try to start things out right this year with some actual knitting content!

That's it. My main knitting object at the moment. It's the Main St. Pullover from Webs. Still. The sleeves are done and the body should be any minute. I'm modifying it to make the body just a little longer, so I'm supposed to knit until it is 19 inches long. I'm at the point where it is perpetually 18 inches long. I knit 5 rows and it's 18 inches. I knit 5 or 6 more rows and it's still 18 inches. I know it's knitting karma. I'm hoping it changes by tomorrow and I can join the sleeves and body together. Then I have a few decrease rows (which will take awhile for each at this point) before I start the colorwork around the yoke. So I can procrastinate being nervous about that for probably a couple of more days. But I love it already, it's warm and soft and wonderful to knit on.

Then there are the newly acquired knitting objects

Mmmm. Yarny goodness. Drool.... I keep picking it up over and over. There's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport and Misti Alpaca in the middle. Those may be slated for one of the many colorwork mitten patterns I'm currently coveting. Except I know the colors might be too close and the gauge may not be right. Hah! Just small hurdles to overcome right? (Yikes!) Oh well, then there's pretty, pretty Rowan Chunky that is destined for a hat for me. I realized if the weather ever goes below 50 degrees here (I guess we're skipping winter in Jersey here or something this year??? I did not get the memo people!) I might need a hat and trust me this stuff is so pretty and gushy and soft you'd want to stick your head in it too. Then there's Rowan Felted tweed hopefully for a pair of Knucks or two. Pretty purple stuff I love. Sigh...

Oh where'd I get it? (Sorry I was in a fiber haze there for a minute) I went with the gals on a yarn crawl this past Saturday. We went to the Knitters Workshop in Garwood (which was ok but there were no prices on anything anywhere) and Knit a Bit in Westfield (which was super organized and had prices on everything and we threw down some good cash there, you betcha!) Then we went to the wondrous Trader Joes which has lots of organic healthy stuff but also has very good quality wines for $2.99 a bottle (really it's good, trust me it's not as sleazy as it sounds) and the best snack ever-pretzel nuggets filled with peanut butter covered in chocolate. That's right-PeanutPretzelChocolate thingys by the bag! Both the yarn and the snacks are so such successes, I'm sure this trip to Trader Joe's and Knit a Bit won't be our last!