Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wahoo! No More 2008!

Not that 2008 was a particularly bad year, it was just...hectic. But looking back on it, what year isn't hectic? Here are the major things I accomplished this year:

1) Completed a grueling internship in Hollywood
2) Wrote my thesis and finished grad school
3) Moved to San Diego
4) Survived six months (and counting) of no work, but several hours a day of trying to find work and all that entails
5) Survived a visit by the in-laws

Hmmm...most of that stuff happened in the first half of the year. And it's not all that exciting. But I was sure busy for most of it! This is off-topic, but I used to work for a graduate program in psychology, and one day just for fun I took some kind of stress test in which you get a certain amount of points for having gone through certain life events in the past 12 months. Major events like getting married, moving to a new city, switching jobs, the death of a loved one, etc. were given the most points. I forget all the details, but there were "healthy" levels of stress and you were supposed to try to stay within the point count for those levels. Anything above those levels was considered extreme and a person who had these elevated stress levels was supposed to do whatever they could to reduce the stress. I scored hundreds of points above the healthy level, and going back year by year, it was clear that I had scored well above healthy for as far back as I could remember.

At the time, I was quite proud of myself for handling stress so well. Now that I look back on it several years later, having had what would be considered "extremely" stressful years in the interim as well, I have come to the decision that that's just normal life, and that my life is no more or less stressful than anyone else's.

Just take care of yourselves is all. :)

I also knitted a lot more than I ever have before, completing 54 projects in all (not counting one adult sweater that is almost done). This includes 8 scarves, 6 pairs of mittens/gloves, 12 hats, 8 accessory/misc. projects, 2 full-size lace stoles, 3 baby sweaters, and 7 adult sweaters. My knitting goals for 2008 were simple: make a sweater that actually fits (done, done, done, done, and done), and do some colorwork (also done, done, done, and done).

In 2009, I would like to:

1) Complete an adult-size colorwork sweater (which would actually be done by now, except that I am still waiting on the yarn I ordered back in August).
2) Knit more lace...I love knitting lace and I don't really know why I don't do it more often.
3) Use up all the yarn I have in my stash at present. I don't think this will be too hard since my stash is manageable by comparison, and I still don't have a job. (No extra cash makes spending money a bit of a problem, therefore I must knit with what I have.)
4) Knit one thing from each of the pattern books that I had to have, but which have since languished on my shelves. This may be a bit difficult.
5) Try my hand at designing a garment for myself.

These aren't hard and fast goals that I will be checking back in on throughout the year, but I am a very goal-oriented person, and I like to set challenges for myself. It's also nice to see that there are still plenty of things to accomplish and learn.

Happy New Year to everyone! Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post, but...I got a new camera for Christmas! Yay! I'm still trying to figure out how to work the new software and all that jazz, but I am planning on my next post, all about my new knitting-related acquisitions. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gross. Just gross.

Hi all. I was feeling too lazy to post today, but then I found a silverfish running all over inside the box of crackers I was eating out of, and since that was supposed to be my lunch and I have nothing else to eat in the apartment, I'm blogging instead of eating. Good times.

Great. I just linked to a Wikipedia article which states that silverfish consist on a diet of carbs, particularly starches. Like my crackers. Bastards.

We have no food left in the apartment because we're heading out tomorrow to spend Christmas with my family. In the Twin Cities. Yes, the same cities that are supposed to get their share of the ginormous snow storm tomorrow. I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for being stranded in one of any random Midwestern airports for an unpredictable amount of time. I'm also planning on arming myself with plenty of entertainment options and food. Those crackers were going to go with me, but now they're in the trash.

Speaking of nasty bug infestations, we bought a new pot for our growing hibiscus a month ago and got a special treat along with the new potting soil: fruit flies! (Or some little flying bug. I'm not an entomologist so I don't really care what they are.) They have been EVERYWHERE around the apartment ever since, and they seem to prefer faces. The Brain tried spraying the plant with Raid a couple of times but it wasn't working. So yesterday I coated the plant and the soil with the spray and left it out in back by the washing machine overnight. I'm going to give it one more night out there and then hopefully the pests will be gone. At this point, I don't care if it kills the plant. No plant? No more bugs! Bugs are a serious pain in the ass.

On a happier note, I finished a few more projects:

Pattern: Traveling Vines Scarf by Cari Luna
Yarn: Shibui Sock in some kind of purple-ish colorway with the poetic name of 229
Notes: Boring pattern--I think I'm done with scarves for quite a while. The yarn was heavenly soft and squooshy though!

Pattern: White Witch Mitts by Laura Rintala
Yarn: Knit Picks Telemark in Skyline, Colonial Blue, Snow Leopard, and Grey Wolf
Notes: My colorwork is getting looser, so that's good, but I still don't know how to prevent the two strands from twisting around each other. So annoying!

I also just finished up a hat out of Malabrigo and am going to cast on for a second one, just to use up the yarn. I finished up a pair of booties last night but forgot to take a photo. More later. Oh! I also finished up my Coraline and I loooooove it, but it deserves its own post, so more about that later too. I also knit up most of a Central Park Hoodie in a few days, but once more seem to be in a problem with yarn may need to go hoodless. More later on that, too.

I don't think I'll be posting while I'm away for the rest of December. I'm going to try to be better about posting my projects in the new year. I think my main problem is that my camera is a pain in the ass and pictureless blogs are no fun, so I tend to avoid taking pictures and as a result have nothing to show in my blog. Who knows? Maybe Santa will finally bring me a new camera this year. ;-)

I'll leave you with some pics from La Jolla last month. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Survived the In-Law Invasion of 2008!!!

That's right, folks. I survived my very first ever visit by the in-laws last week. I think the time leading up to the visit was so much more nerve-wracking than their actual stay, so that's something to keep in mind for next time, I guess. They informed us of their impending invasion from Montreal about six months ago so I've been dreading it since we moved down here to San Diego.

And it's not even that my in-laws are horrible people. They're not! They're perfectly lovely and kind and generous and they made themselves as scarce as possible by taking themselves out to do touristy things and were very clean and quiet around the apartment. But see, here's the thing: I just didn't know them very well and I already really don't like people staying at my apartment, so people I don't know very well (and with whom I am obligated to have a relationship) make me particularly nervous. Why didn't I know them very well? THAT'S a story that coincides well with our anniversary, which also happened to be last week. (At this point, I need to request that you excuse my hair in these photos. I couldn't find a single person in Pittsburgh who knew how to cut hair, although I'm sure they exist. Plus I was traveling and forgot half my hair stuff. Gimme a break.)

Three years ago, in September, The Brain and I met in Minneapolis and started dating. He brought me up to Montreal to meet his parents the following summer, before I moved away for grad school. We had a nice dinner on their back deck, overlooking the nearby apply orchard.

Two years ago, I was out in Pittsburgh for the first year of my grad program while The Brain was back in Minneapolis (my home town) for the final year of his post-doc. He came to visit me in September for our one-year anniversary (of dating) and over pita and hummus at the local Middle-Eastern chain restaurant, we decided to get hitched. (Yeah I know, so romantic. :-P)

Anyway, two months later we headed to New York City over Thanksgiving and got married in the courthouse. Then we took ourselves out for lunch, bought a wedding cheesecake at the deli near our hotel in Times Square, and called our families. (Hey, it doesn't work for everyone but we had a blast and avoided all the unnecessary crap that can surround a big wedding.) Keep in mind that at this point, I had still only met his parents that one time. After Thanksgiving weekend was over, The Brain went back to Minneapolis and I returned to Pittsburgh. We didn't get to live together for the first seven months that we were married. :(

That Christmas, The Brain and I traveled back to Montreal to spend a couple days with his parents and celebrate the wedding with them. That was the last time either of us saw them until we picked them up at the airport a couple weeks ago. I was nervous because I had no idea what my in-laws would be like. Would they be nit-picky and critical? Would they see a piece of dust and think I forced The Brain to live in a pig sty? What would they think of my yarn stash? Would they think I was lazy and obsessed? I still haven't found a job (not my fault!)--would they think I was content to sit around doing nothing while their son went off to work every day and supported me? And perhaps the most important worry of all: Oh dear god, what are they going to think of that horrible stain in the shower that the previous tenants left for us?!? (Magic Erasers are miracles, that's all I gotta say.)

They left early in the morning on Thanksgiving. We had a lovely visit, we celebrated our second anniversary with them, and we're even talking about going on a holiday cruise together sometime in the future (the far future). I obviously survived because I'm here to talk about it (phew!) and now I can turn my attention to other things because this is supposed to be a knitting blog, right?

I have been knitting up a bunch of stuff for my fam; not for Christmas, but because they bought the yarn and they still live in Minnesota and are cold, dammit! And so I present to you:

The Quickie Parade of FOs!
click links for Rav page and notes

Pattern: Melon Pattern for a Shawl or Scarf by Jane Sowerby
Yarn: Malabrigo Lace in Paris Night

Pattern: Traveling Stitch Legwarmers by Lisa R. Myers
Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport in Butterfly Blue

Pattern: Green Honey Man-Scarf by Mary Townsend
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8 in Medium Heather Gray

Pattern: Lettuce Leaf Scarf by Janice Lynn
Yarn: Cascade Heritage Paints

Pattern: Elm Row Scarf by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Wagtail Yarns Kid Mohair Lace in Sage

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

I am so deliriously happy today, but also profoundly disappointed.

I am so proud of my country, and excited to be able to turn the corner as a nation. I am extremely excited to have a president I can be proud of and not embarrassed by. I can't even remember what that feels like.

But I am also deeply ashamed of my state. If it looks like discrimination and it acts like discrimination, then that is exactly what it is. We should all be fighting to put an end to the legalization of this discrimination, regardless of personal, sometimes religious, viewpoints on the matter. That's all I have to say (for now) on the subject.

* * * * *

In knitting news, does anyone know the best way to wind a 1650 yd. hank of laceweight? I picked up the beautiful Autumn Arbor Shawl kit from the Woolen Rabbit as soon as it was released a while back and ever since then I have been perplexed by this blob of yarn as big as my head. It's absolutely gorgeous and I won't be getting to it for a while, but...DAMN! That's one ginormous hunk of yarn!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Man, is there anything more exciting and fun than voting?!? I loooooove it. Absolutely LOVE it. I just came home from voting in my fourth presidential election (wow, I'm old!) and I have to say that out of all of them, this is the most excited and hopeful I have felt. Last time I was just so angry that I couldn't enjoy the experience. This time? I was more than happy to slog through the first real rain I have seen since I moved down here in order to cast my vote in a hotel lobby (also a first for me). I am especially excited about my vote this time because I got to vote NO on Prop 8, which is an issue that is very important to me. (And, as a civil rights issue, should be important to everyone in this country, but I'll save the lecture for another time.) I was lucky (?) enough to be living in Minnesota when a similar bill came on the ballot several years ago. I guess I'm just moving around the country spreading the love, huh?

I finished my sister's legwarmers several days ago and cast on for a project for my brother. He requested a soft, squooshy scarf in heathered "t-shirt" gray. I found some Karabella Aurora 8 on sale at kpixie and I am really happy with how the scarf is turning out. I am using the free Green Honey Man-Scarf pattern by Mary Townsend and it really works well with this yarn. It is incredibly soft and squooshy, but I am a little concerned about how little it seems to be draping. Hopefully when it gets longer and gets blocked, the weight and the bath will help it relax a bit. I'm knitting the cables a little more tightly than I normally would because when I started the scarf, I kept getting these ugly ladders and spaces between them. If I want them to snuggle up together all nicely, I have to make sure they're a little tight.

I also cast on for a sweater for myself: Coraline by Ysolda Teague, out of Debbie Bliss Prima in black. This is a project that I have been waiting a long time to make, so I am excited to get going on it. The yarn is 80% bamboo, 20% wool. It doesn't really have any stretch to it, and the yarn is a little stiff at first like most plant fibers. But my swatch is all drapey and soft and the yarn definitely loosens up as you knit with it, so I'm really looking forward to this one. The only thing is that the yarn seems to go pretty quickly and I'm starting to worry that the 13 balls I bought won't be enough to finish, even though I bought some extra just in case. I can only wait and see (and of course, knit faster so I can outrun the yarn).

Thanks to the kind hearts out there who left comments on my last post about the job situation. It is very frustrating and a little scary but I'm trying to look on the bright side and see it as an opportunity to catch up on knitting and reading and running, etc. Part of me feels like I'm wasting my life but there is honestly not a single thing I can do about it right now that I'm not already doing. I even wrote a business plan, scouted a great location, and applied for loans to open my own LYS...but that was right around the time that the financial crisis hit its peak, so banks weren't exactly rolling out the red carpet for new businesses. Maybe in a few years.

In the mean time, thanks for reading!!! :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Have Become a Knitting Pimp

Yes, I know I've been away from blogging for a while. It seems I spend more time apologizing for that on this blog than anything else! :-P I've been away mostly because it has been a difficult past few months for me, and I didn't want to be all whiny and "poor me my life is so hard" on the blog because who wants to read about that? But allow me a few moments to vent, if you please:

How is it that a person of moderate to high intelligence, with two Bachelors degrees from two very fine institutions and a Masters degree from one of the "New Ivies", with years of experience both inside and outside her chosen field can't for the life of her find a job in a large U.S. city? I have lived down here for four months now and had only one interview. I can't even get a response to applications for secretarial positions! I'm a hard worker and I'm not asking the moon for salary, but I am in dire need of funds at this point but even the city's temp agencies are dry. Granted, not having any free time does leave me with lots of time to knit...but no money to knit with.


I pimped my services to my large family and they pay for the yarn! Perfect!

I just got back from spending a week and a half in Minneapolis helping my parents unpack and sort out 35 years' worth of stuff. They have moved several times over the years, but there were a LOT of boxes they hadn't unpacked in 20 years or more. Now that they have finally been able to purchase a permanent home (instead of renting houses from the university where my father teaches), they wanted to sort through everything they own and whittle everything down to an organized, manageable collection of goods.

Smart people. The only difficulty is that they had 12 kids (12 kids can generate a LOT of stuff over the years), and all but one child is either in high school, college, or off with families and careers of their own. (Read: tons of stuff, no one around to help.) That's where I came in. Being broke but with all the time in the world (and also, I admit, kind of a drill sargeant when it comes to organizing and THROWING STUFF AWAY--efficient and ruthless), my parents thought it would be worth it to fly me back up to Minneapolis for a week and a half to have me organize effort.

Many days I was working on my own, many days with my mother, and for several loooooong days I was working with my eight year-old sister to organize her room and all the toys a family of 14 generates over the years. She didn't want to throw anything away. I, being ruthless and all, was happy to chuck junk into the garbage bags when she wasn't looking.

Aaaaaanyway...back to knitting content. Knowing that it would be a lot colder in Minneapolis than San Diego (duh), I brought along several scarves of mine that one of my sisters immediately swooned over. So of course I had to give them to her. (It must be that whole knitterly pride thing.) She immediately requested more scarves and leg warmers. She is a nurse and likes to wear leg warmers underneath her scrubs so her legs don't get too cold at work. One thing led to another and we ended up at The Yarnery (love it!) for some yarny goodness. Anyone who pays attention to friend activity on Ravelry will have seen me add a lot of luscious yarn to my stash lately. Don't worry--I didn't pay for any of it. (OK, I did buy a skein of Malabrigo Chunky. Oh, and some clearance yarn from Elann and 4 balls of Kidsilk Haze at 50% off somewhere else. But they were all cheap and I'm all done buying yarn forever and ever amen until I get a job.)

So now the fun thing is that I get to knit with a bunch of fun yarns I have never used before but I didn't have to pay for anything! I do have a few sweaters that I have been dying to make for myself, but it's so much fun to knit for people who want and appreciate your work that I came home and immediately cast on for the Traveling Stitch Legwarmers for my sister. I'm already on the second one!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Good Week For Mail

I had been planning on doing a mini-review of my new pattern books the next time I posted, but instead a new topic came to me in the mail yesterday: a goodie package from The Yarniad! She was having a birthday drawing for a cute little felted purse, so I tossed my name in the hat and it was picked! Yay!

Btw, if you haven't checked out her blog, you really should. I think I discovered it through another person's "OMG you have to go see what The Yarniad made!" posts. She truly does create some very stunning things, and she sews too, so there are many, many beautiful items to gawk at.

Her package arrived in the mail yesterday. I was thrilled with the cute little purse, and believe me when I say that I wish I could sew in zippers that smoothly. But that wasn't all! She also packed up a bath bomb, a packet of tea, a box of chocolates with a cute pin attached, and two skeins of yarn!

The green yarn is Curious Creek Fibers Omo in Birches in Norway, which is actually a colorway I have lusted after online and it is truly glorious in person: shades of green with wisps of silver-gray running through them. The cone is Artfibers Golden Chai, a tussah silk yarn in a beautiful light plum color. They both look so luscious, and they're two of my favorite colors!

Thank you so much, Hilary!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Can We Say WOW?!?

So, after my little rant on Monday about not being able to get ahold of Kim Hargreaves' Nectar, I was browsing through the message boards on Ravelry and found a post announcing that her latest book, Thrown Together, was now available in the U.S. The post was from the woman who runs Hampton Knitting Yarn in Hampton Bays, NY. I thought, "If she has Thrown Together, maybe she also has Nectar and Rowan 44 in stock," and I called her up right away.

Not only was the woman on the phone immensely polite and helpful, she did indeed have the two books I was looking for. When she asked where I was calling from and I told her, 'California', she said she wasn't sure but "it might take until Thursday for the books to get to you".

Well, considering that I had already been waiting nearly SEVEN WEEKS for my order, three days wasn't such a big deal. I placed my order with Hampton Knitting Yarn and emailed the other online retailer to have her cancel my order. (When I spoke with her on the phone two weeks ago, she told me that if I could find the books in stock somewhere else, I could cancel the order with her since she hadn't charged me anything yet.)

OK, so I ordered the books on Monday, and by 10:30 this morning they were on my doorstep! All three were individually wrapped in tissue paper, and she even included a little packet of peppermint candies and a reusable shopping tote (perfect, because I try to use my own bags whenever possible)!

I am so happy to find a small shop that also has wonderful service for their online customers. I will certainly be shopping with Hampton Knitting Yarn again! Now if you will excuse me, I have some reading to do. ;-)

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Day of Surprises

I was greeted this morning by not one, but two nice surprises! (Actually, more than that if I count all the nice comments on my recent sweaters...thanks!!!!) The first was that it started pouring rain at 8:00 this morning, and I haven't seen rain like that since late last winter. Of course it lasted less than two minutes, but to a native Minnesotan any change in the weather is a welcome one and it meant that I got to snuggle under a blanket on the couch for an hour while it was still gray outside and pretend that it was still rainy.

The other surprise was that the books I ordered from Amazon last week actually turned up early!!!

I was ordering a couple of other things, so I decided to toss Vintage Knitwear for Modern Knitters into my basket so I could get free shipping. I have had my eye on this book for a while and I was just waiting for someone to review it, but so far no one has. So, being the intrepid knitter that I am, I took the plunge and ordered it.

This book has a cute and compelling concept: take vintage sweater patterns, update them to modern sizes and yarns, and write them out in a way that we can understand today. There are a lot of vintage sweaters out there that are super cute, so I was hoping this book would have a good collection of them. Plus, it's written by a woman who does this for a living: she recreates authentic vintage knitwear for film and television.

First off, I have to say that I like the way this book is laid out. After a one-page introduction, it launches right into the patterns, without going through a chapter on how to knit, how to do the techniques used in the book, what the yarns are like, etc. That stuff is covered substantially in other books and I'm always tired of seeing it in pattern books. The pages are also in all different colors, with photos of both the modern sweater and the vintage one from which is was taken.

The problem(s) I have with the book are that for most of the patterns, there is only one photo of the finished product, so you don't get to see how anything looks from multiple angles. There are schematics for the patterns though, which helps a lot. There is also a conspicuous absence of any models: all the sweaters are on a dress form with no arms, which makes the tube tops and off the shoulder tops look funny. Many of the finished sweaters are also knit with really dark yarn and it is very difficult to see details (or, in the case of one sweater, tell where the arms are separate from the body of the sweater).

I could actually see myself making 5 or 6 of these patterns, which is pretty good for a book that has 21 patterns total and costs less than $14. I think it's odd that only two of the patterns are up on Ravelry. Plus, if you go to the Ravelry page, there is a link to a free pdf download with 5 or 6 patterns from the book for free--including several of the cutest sweaters! I would say that unless you just want to add the book to your collection, get the pdf instead.

* * * * *

So here's a little dilemma of mine: Back on August 15, I placed an order with a small, online yarn shop. I had just sold my car and I was treating myself to a few long-awaited goodies: Kim Hargreaves' Heartfelt and Nectar, Rowan 44, and a sweater's worth of yarn that was on clearance. Now, this shop claims that everything is shipped out within 48 hours. I got a confirmation email of my order and I figured that I would have everything within about 10 days.

Well, a week and a half went by and my bank account hadn't been charged for anything, nor had I gotten any shipment notifications by email. The shop's website stated that they had someone to answer phones Tuesday-Friday so I called them. When no one answered, I left a message asking if there was anything wrong with my order and requesting a call back. I emailed them as well. Days passed with no response. I called again, and this time a woman answered and said that my yarn would be going out any day now, but that the books were all on backorder. This annoyed me because I only placed an order with this shop because all the other websites said that Nectar was out of stock and hers was the only one who appeared to have it in. All right, fine. I can wait.

A week later, still no yarn. I called back and she checked my tracking number and said it would be delivered that very day. A week after that, I called again and she said that actually there had been something wrong with the delivery address so the package had arrived back at her shop the same day I had called looking for it, but that it had been sent out again with the Heartfelt book. The other two books were expected in her shop by the end of the week and would follow in the mail. She also said she was a one-woman operation so things like emailing customers to let them know that something is out of stock or delayed or whatever is really difficult. (And I'm're a business! Writing an email takes 30 seconds!) has now been 6 and a half weeks since I placed my first order. Nectar is sold out everywhere and I've even heard rumors of it being out of print. If I missed my chance to buy it somewhere else because I was waiting for this woman to get her act together, I will be royally miffed. I saw that WEBS still had a few copies of it and thought about canceling my order with this woman, but wanted to give her another chance because I prefer to support the smaller shops. WEBS is now sold out and I'm bummed.

I won't bore you with my recent story about damaged Addis and the order I placed online in August that I won't see until the end of October. This is why getting my Amazon order so early was such a shocker! The shitty stuff usually happens to my orders! This is also why I wish I had a good yarn store closer to me. *sigh* Someday, right?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another FO Parade

Yes, I know: I've been a delinquent blogger. But honestly, I don't have a lot of interesting things to report. I'm still job-hunting, and I even considered opening my own yarn shop for a while, but as typically happens, realistic finances sidelined that idea. (Why don't banks accept fantasy finances? They look so much better!) I'm still waiting to hear about the results of a big interview I had over a month ago, and in the meantime I'm scouring San Diego for other possibilities. *sigh* The only good thing about being unemployed in a city where you know absolutely NO ONE is that you get a lot of knitting time.

Unfortunately, most of my knitting time lately has been taken up by unexciting gift knitting. But I do have a few FOs that I finally managed to get pictures of:

My B-Side, by Laura Chau. I love this sweater! Even through all the problems with running out of yarn (twice!), and being sent the wrong yarn by my old LYS, all is forgiven and I love the sweater. It's longer than I meant to make it because the yarn is kinda heavy and it pulls the sweater down a bit, but that's OK. It's all soft and snuggly and I have been wearing it all over town. (Ravelry details)

Next up: I finally finished sewing the buttons on Chrissy Gardiner's Auburn Camp Shirt! The shirt was a pain in the ass to knit with lace weight, but it turned out well. I really don't like the way the collar and the sleeve cuffs were designed, but I'm too lazy to rip those out and do them again. I don't know that this shirt will get a lot of wear. It fits well and is surprisingly warm, but it's also not really my style. It was just supposed to be a quick project made with cheap yarn to tide me over between yarn buying binges. (Ravelry details)

Finally, my Elm Row scarf, by Anne Hanson. I looooooove this one! The pattern is fast and easy, but looks complicated and decorative. I can't get enough of leaves in lace! The pattern calls for 25 repeats of the lace chart, but I kept going until I ran out of yarn and I'm glad I did. I got about 40 repeats in, and it's the perfect length for me (54.5"). I used Kaalund Yarns Enchante in Glass House. 100% silk, baby! This is the loveliest lace I have ever used. I would use this over and over again. It is so soft and shimmery and the colors are to DIE for. I also bought my first pair of Addi Lace needles and I'm glad I did. I don't normally like needles with "grab", but the silk yarn was so slippery that the needles helped out a lot. Definitely recommended. (Ravelry details)

By the time I have my next post, hopefully I will have gotten some more orders in. Yes, I'm STILL waiting on the same order that I placed more than a month ago. Is it any wonder why so many people just shop at WEBS?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Special Package

Yay! I got a special package in the mail today!!! No, not the yarn that I ordered two weeks ago and have been waiting for ever since, even though I called the online shop twice and they kept assuring me that it would be delivered this past Monday, then that it would be delivered on Wednesday...*sigh*. I wish I had a decent LYS so I could stop ordering things online from questionable operations, even if their prices are good.

No, what I got instead was my Amazon order! Two new knitting books for me!!! I'm so happy to get these books that even the sound of my neighbor yelling at his wife over the specificity of the language she uses in her text messages can't dampen my enjoyment. :) (Seriously--there are more important things to pick a fight over than whether you say, "The kid wants to go to the park" or, "I'm taking the kid to the park". And don't sit in the passenger seat of the car yelling at your wife while she's holding a sleeping baby, dragging around a diaper bag and a toddler, and then make her load everything into the car and play chauffer too. I knew there was something wrong with this guy.)

Anyway...the first book, Custom Knits, is one I have been so super excited for. Knit and Tonic was one of the first knitting blogs I ever read, and I love Wendy Bernard's designs. Just from flipping through the book, I see lots of super cute patterns that I really want to make. But it's more than just a pattern book--she gives all kind of information about how to tailor each pattern to fit your style. She even gives at least two versions for every pattern! Plus, there is a whole section on top-down techniques, changing specific aspects of a pattern (neckline, sleeves, etc), and how to design things yourself. This book is choc full of cuteness and information. It almost makes me want to design my own sweater! Too bad I didn't have this book when I was making the sleeves for my B-Side. She shows how to do sleeve cap shaping using short rows so you can do everything top-down. I'm sure this book will get a lot of play. Love!

The second book, Victorian Lace Today, is one I have been wanting for a while now. I remember seeing it at a LYS in Pittsburgh when it first came out and thinking that everything in it was really beautiful. It features little segments on some of the leading lace designers/publishers of the Victorian Era and then has beautifully-photographed patterns for each section. I can't believe how many there are! I have been mad at myself for only buying 2 skeins each of 3 different beautiful Malabrigo lace colors last spring because most of the lace patterns I see call for around 1200 yards (and I only have 940). But I can find several projects in this book to make with them, so I'm much happier now. :)

More online orders are on the way, so stay tuned for more posts about yummy surprises!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sleeve Doctor

OK, so blogging about the stack of sweaters that needed final touches got me off my ass and over to the almost-FO pile. I sewed buttons on my Auburn Camp Shirt, but will do an FO post once I get The Brain to take some pictures. For now, I will tell you about the awful time I had finishing my B-Side.

Remember that post (you know, like 3 days ago) in which I laid out my problems finding enough yarn to finish this sweater? Well, I finally picked it up again yesterday to sew the sleeves in but I realized that I had no matching DK yarn to use for the seams. I still have all those partial balls of Knit Picks Merino Style that I used for the Wild Stripes Baby Blanket, so I picked the color that best matched my sweater and fell to it. This blanket is the same one I use for my banner, so you can see that finding a close match for a deep eggplant color wasn't going to happen.

I sat down and got one sleeve stitched in, and found a problem. Um...the sleeve caps were a bit too big for the armholes. So big that I had a princess pouf look going on that was not going to be solved by blocking it. Before I put the second sleeve in, I ripped out about two and a half inches off the top of the sleeve cap, bound it off and then sewed it in.

This is where some rudimentary knowledge of sleeve cap shaping would have helped. It turns out there's a reason that sleeve caps are shaped the way they are, with all those calculated sloping decreases and stuff. Those decreases actually serve a purpose! Simply halting the knitting when you think your cap is big enough, and then binding off in a straight line, will not do anything for you. You actually need to get rid of all that extra fabric or you will end up guessed it: princess poufs on the front and back of your arms, just not on top! I didn't take a picture of that one because it was too depressing.

Next step: I ripped out both arms, frogged one down to the beginning of the sleeve cap, and rejiggered the required decreases to fit into the necessary length. Nice! Then I repeated the process for the other sleeve, sewed both sleeves back in, gave the whole thing a bath, and now my sweater is lounging on the floor, drying lazily and waiting for some buttons.

One last problem though: it seems to have lengthened considerably since it took a bath. It is easily 3 or 4 inches longer in both the body and the arms than I knit it (according to my notes). I mean, I'm 5'10" so everything I knit has to be lengthened, but...I actually laid down on my wet sweater (is this an acceptable measurement technique?) and I swear the thing covers half my butt. Not quite what I had in mind for a streamlined, comfy cardi! Hopefully my highly scientific and perfectly accurate measuring system is wrong and it will fit me nicely. Otherwise, I went through all that yarn drama for nothing!

P.S. I did straighten out the sweater some more after I took that picture. :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No Knitting News...How About Some Book Reviews!

Hey, that rhymes!

So, I don't have anything exciting to report about my knitting, except that last night I finished up a sock (I know! I don't even knit socks!) that I had been making for The Brain out of some Knit Picks Essential Tweed I bought over two years ago for just that purpose. I knitted them toe up and they fit him perfectly the whole way through...until I bound them off. He can't get them over his heel. If anyone can tell me what kind of bind-off you're supposed to do on the tops of socks, it would save me a hunt through all the magazine articles and blog entries I have never paid attention to before because, excuse me, but I DON'T KNIT SOCKS!

So...I have nothing else to talk about...except for how freekin' hot the sun is down in California! I'm a Minneapolis girl, and I know as well as any other Minnesotan that it gets so hot and humid up there you feel as though everyone might as well walk around in towels because it is like living in a sauna. (We're talking high 80s and 90s all summer with, like, 99% humidity.) Up in Minnesota when it gets down to 75 degrees everyone breathes a sigh of relief and stops breaking into a sweat just reaching for the remote. But down here in SoCal, that sun is HOT! It was 75 degrees this afternoon and I wouldn't even consider putting on pants. I had a job interview today that was only a mile away from my house and I had to leave home half an hour ahead of time just so I could walk as slowly as possible so I wouldn't be a hot, sweaty, wobbly mess by the time I got there. The trick seems to be to keep moving. If you stand still, you will fry up on the sidewalk. Just a little tip from me to you.

All right, on to the book reviews. These are books that I picked up at Interweave's hurt book sale a while back. Without further ado (and in no particular order):

Knit So Fine: Designs with Skinny Yarn
This book spent a lot of time (25 pages) talking about the advantages of knitting with "skinny" (DK or lighter) yarns. None of their arguments are particularly revelatory (better fit, better drape, less expensive overall), but I didn't get the book for the information so that was OK. And at least they didn't include a chapter on how to knit, although they did spend some time talking about the differences in types of knitting needles. Yawn! I got the book because I was hoping there would be some cute patterns in it. There are a couple (like the Kimono Top and the Anemone Beret), but most of the patterns are just too plain for me to get excited about at the moment.
Verdict: Meh. None of the patterns jump out at me and my queue is so long already that I doubt I'll be knitting anything from this book.

Wrap Style
This is a book that I have been meaning to pick up for a while. I flip through it whenever I'm in a bookstore, but it has never been a book that I needed to have, so I never bothered to buy it. As I sit here writing about it, I'm kind of wondering why I ended up buying it at all, since I don't wear shawls or wraps or capelets or anything of the kind. I think maybe I fell prey to the "I can totally see myself tossing that over my shoulders as I head out to drinks with friends!" fantasy. Except that my go-to outer garment is my denim jacket, and more importantly: I don't know a single soul in San Diego, so going out for drinks with friends really is a fantasy!

But pathetic personal revelations aside, about the only thing I can seriously see myself making from this book is Twisty Turns, the Norah Gaughan capelet thingy, but that would probably only happen if I ran out of other things to knit. As in: not likely.
Verdict: Another meh. The stuff in here is nice and I can imagine them looking cute on other people, just not on me.

Knitting Little Luxuries
Now here is a book that I have walked past at the bookstore several times and just left on the shelf. Why? Well, I primarily enjoy knitting sweaters, and even though I might knit the occassional scarf, a book full of little things to knit hadn't really appealed to me. (I do have to say though, that I think the purse on the front is super cute.) It turns out that there are some cute things in this book that I can see myself making: The Cecily Beanie with all those buttons, the aforementioned Daphne Purse, the Dixie Pillow, the Alicia Tabard (although something about it doesn't quite sit right with me...I would have to tweak it somehow), the Diane Cardigan, and the quirky Emma Hat. Wow. That's a lot of little projects! I will have to keep this book in mind the next time I'm in the mood for something small.
Verdict: It's a keeper. Now I have to get over my tendency to forget all about the books I have on my shelf and fall for the latest cute little thing I see online.

No Sheep For You
I remember seeing this book when it first came out and thinking, "Oh, those poor people with sensitivities to wool. At least they have an obscure little book just for them!" Um...yeah. May I remind you that I had just started knitting and had maybe two pillow covers and half a sweater body under my belt? I am so glad I finally got this book and read through it! It is packed with information about all the different plant and man-made fibers out there: how to use them and what to expect. For someone like me who tends to focus mainly on the wool/alpaca/silk side of things, it was a welcome education. And then there are patterns! I particularly like the Eileen tank top and the Bespoke cotton/linen coat. The Cables and Os cardi is cute, too. And even though I would probably substitute animal fibers for them if I made them, the patterns do show you the versatility of plant fibers and how nice they can look in the right project.
Verdict: A definite keeper for all of the valuable information. Some cute patterns.

I have made more knitting acquisitions in the past couple of weeks, but I am still waiting for them to get shipped to me. I will (try to) keep you updated as fun things arrived. And I will also (try to) get all those projects blocked and buttoned so I can get some FO action shots up here!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just Do It

You know what? There should be a name for that thing knitters get where they finish up a project except for the tiniest little final detail (blocking? buttons?), and then let it sit for weeks (months? years?) on end. See this?

This is a pile of sweaters (whole sweaters!) that just need some tiny little insignificant detail to be completed before they're ready to be worn. Most of them just need to be blocked...I don't even have to be around for that! I can just get them wet, spread them out, and walk away!

OK, in all fairness, three of them need buttons and I just picked those up this weekend.

One of them needs sleeves sewn in. Yes, I am finished knitting my beloved B-Side and all I have to do is sew in the sleeves, block it, and stitch on some cute buttons. I have had some issues with that sweater though, so I'm a little scared to touch it.

I don't know if you remember this post, in which I was still excited about knitting the sweater but had to make adjustments to the sleeve size. The new sleeves worked out until...I ran out of yarn!!! I still had to knit the button bands and the shawl collar, but I had already run through 13 balls of is this possible?!?

I called up the store where I originally bought the yarn, and they said they had two balls left in my color, but they weren't the same dyelot. Since I had managed to finish up the sleeves by unraveling my gauge swatch, I figured it wouldn't be too bad if the color on the button band and collar were slightly different.

I waited patiently for the yarn to be sent to me, but when it got was the wrong color entirely! I called up the yarn shop again, they said they would put the proper color in the mail and do an exchange on their end when I mailed the yarn back to them. I waited patiently for my new yarn to arrive. When it did, it was the wrong yarn!!! They sent me the worsted-weight version, not the DK-weight that I had VERY SPECIFICALLY requested (and which they had correctly entered on the receipt, I might add). Since I had not been all that impressed with this yarn store in the past, I didn't even bother to call them up a third time. I just went up 2 needle sizes and knit the button band and collar in a different size yarn. Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn (again!!!) on the collar, so it is only half as long as it should be. *sigh* I will just have to live with it, I guess.

I have so much more to share, including some book reviews, but I can't spill it all out at once or else this post will be a million miles long. I'll try to post more often instead. You would think that an unemployed knitter would have more time to write blogs, but it's amazing how many other things I can get up to (knitting, anyone?) instead. I am going in for a second job interview at a very fun place tomorrow, so I may not be unemployed for much longer. :)

Friday, August 1, 2008


Check it out. Seriously. I love it. It's awesome. Yay!

I have been knitting, but I have a cold and my head is all wonky. I'll put up a real post sometime this weekend. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Look What I Have...


I finally received my yarn!!! This stuff has been a long time in coming, let me tell you! Let's recap, shall we?

March 15: Placed order and paid for nearly $130 of yarn from a woman who was having a sale in her online shop based out of Texas.
March 19: Realized that because of some error on PayPal's web page, my address had never been changed from an old Pittsburgh, PA address I had lived at for 10 months during grad school. (They somehow managed to change my bank account correctly though. Imagine that.) Consequently, my yarn was sent to Pittsburgh and I had to wait several weeks for it to be sent back to TX.
April 17: Received notice that the package had made its way back to the seller in TX, and that it would be re-sent to me ASAP.
May 1: After waiting another two weeks and paying for shipping a second time, my yarn arrived. Only half of the order was in the box. Only 13 out of the 15 skeins I had ordered. Notified the seller, who tried to claim that she had packed the original order in its entirety, and the box must have been "compromised" during shipping.
May 14: Received an email from the seller telling me that she had re-ordered the colors I wanted from Berroco, and would send them out ASAP. Oh, and she found the 4 skeins of one color that she was so sure she had packed in the original box. I am told the wait will be 10 days.
May 27: Received an email from the seller claiming that Berroco was shipping things veeeeery sloooowly.
July 7: After checking in with the seller several times, received an email stating that she had the yarn, but had other things to take care of first before she could get it in the mail to me.
July 23: FINALLY received my yarn order!!!

Let's look at this another way. Since March 15, I have done the following: (includes only major, out-of-the-ordinary items)

- Completed a full-time, graduate-level internship and all coursework for graduate school.
- Researched, wrote, and submitted my Masters Thesis
- Graduated from graduate school.
- Worked a temp job for a month.
- Hunted for, found, and moved into a new apartment in a new city.
- Logged N number of hours looking for a job in the new city. (Where N = an integer equal to the number of hours it takes to become completely frustrated and depressed about the lack of appropriate jobs, plus 5 hours/week for extra effort.)

Or, in terms of knitting projects I have started and completed:

- 1 Hooded Baby Sweater
- 1 Wobbly Circles Tote
- 1 Desperate Hausfrau wig
- 1 Hanami Stole
- 1 Under the Hoodie sweater
- 1 Space Helmet
- 1 Hallowig
- 1 Something Red sweater
- 1 Cathedral Purse
- 1 Twig Lace Cap
- 1 Mini Clapotis
- 1 pair Nereid Fingerless Gloves
- 3 Lizard Ridge squares
- 1 Soleil tank top
- 95% of 1 Auburn Camp Shirt
- 60% of 1 B-Side Cardigan

And to think--I ordered this yarn as an early graduation present to myself so I could have something to knit in between working on chapters of my thesis! Oh, and I couldn't find any sign of the 25% off coupon the seller promised to include in the package, either. This woman is nothing if not consistent.

P.S. Whenever I leave a comment on someone else's blog and they send me a reply, I always think that's just the sweetest thing ever (not necessary, but really sweet)! I can't tell you how many replies to comments I have sent out, but apparently Blogger does not support these replies. I only know this because I sent a lengthy reply to one of my brother's replies, and he never received it. So...sorry if you never got anything from me. I did reply to you, honest! They just got shuffled off into the internet ether. :(

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Knitting Frenzy

My B-Side is still going well. I'm done with the body, and only have the sleeves left to do, and then the big collar thingy, and I'm all done! I'm Magic Looping the sleeves (is that a verb?) so I only have to stick them into the armholes at the end. I would just pick up sleeves around the armhole and knit them down, but I don't really know how to do all the fancy sleeve-top shaping to get that to work, and it's actually easier this way without having to deal with an entire sweater body flopping around. :)

I did end up making the sleeve holes larger than the pattern called for, however (using measurements from some other sweaters of mine), so I'll have to deal with that when I get to it. Because my gauge seems to be different in the round than when I knit flat, I finished up half a sleeve before I decided that it was just too tight (what is it with me and sleeves that are too tight???), so I frogged the whole thing and started over with sleeves that are a couple sizes larger. I have only gotten through the cuff of the first one so far, so I hope it works.

In more exciting news, I got the books I ordered from the Interweave hurt book sale! They came much faster than I was anticipating, and they're all in good shape, too! (Certainly no worse for wear than books that have been pawed over at a bookstore.) I'm super excited about No Sheep For You, because I could stand to learn more about non-animal fibers and how to work with them, and it has some cute patterns, too. Knitting Little Luxuries is a book I have browsed through before, but never liked enough to pay full price for. Knit So Fine and Wrap Style are both books that piqued my curiosity, but which I am sure I would never have purchased otherwise. But now I have 4 new books to add to my shelves and I'm very happy about that! :)

I'm also super excited about this new addition to our living room: a new armchair! The Brain and I have been married for over a year and a half now, and since we were both in our late 20s when we got married, we each already had an apartment full of furniture of our own. This is our first official furniture purchase together, and we both love it! It's SUPER soft, with just the right combination of squooshy and firm. It is wide enough to curl up on and read a book and just be super comfy. We both like it so much that last night we had to compromise over who got to sit in it!

In other news, there is a relatively new knitting group down here that is meeting up tonight. I'm going to try to head out and check it out, even though I'm not normally a group knitter, and my previous experience with a knitting group didn't go so well. Does anyone else have good/bad experiences with knitting groups? I've never really been a joiner, and one side of my brain keeps trying to talk me into going while the other side keeps giving me reasons not to. There is also some track racing going on at the velodrome that The Brain is going to, and I like watching those, too, so I'm up in the air about this. If I end up making it, I'll give a full report next time. ;-)