31 October 2006

Happy Halloween and Happy Vacation!!

Yep, yesterday was my last day at work. My lovely coworkers surprised me with a gorgeous pottery bowl, plus 3 sets of needles and 3 skeins of yarn. The needles are Boye straights and the yarn is Bernat Disco, which is a novelty fur yarn but it's SPARKLY. I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet, but something. It was very nice of them.

I don't plan to be employed again until at least February.

Brendon has been sitting around the house playing video games on leave since last Monday, so he is completely in vacation mode already.

Today we're flying to California to spend 11 days at my parents' house. San Fran East Bay area. I will be taking my camera and the USB cord for it, so I will post, but not on a daily basis most likely, unless I can't adjust to the time change and have nothing better to do when I'm awake at 6 am every morning. I have a crochet project (okay, 2) to take on the plane. Crochet seems more airplane-friendly to me. Especially with a plastic hook.

Since it's Halloween, I suggested going in costume to the airport. You know, a turban for B, a burka for me, a black briefcase... B didn't think it was very funny. Somehow being in the military makes you lose your sense of humor concerning things like that. Oh well. The security people at the airport probably have that same gap in their sense of humor, so I guess it's for the best.

See you on the West Coast!

30 October 2006

Fetching Convertible Mittens

I have finished my mom's Converted Convertible Fetching mittens - hooray! And a full 24 hours before I see her.




For comparison, and because (somewhat unfortunately) I think they came out so much better, here are the original Converted Convertibles that I made for myself.

They're better only because the yarn is more appropriate for the pattern. They hold their shape better, you can actually see the cables, etc. Still, my mom's are like sliding your hands into a warm puffy cloud. So soft. So nice. Just not as pretty or stout. Also, the cream-colored ones have buttons so they actually stay closed and therefore toasty. The brown ones will have buttons too, but not yet. (Yes, though the picture quality suggests otherwise, these are the cream ones.)

If you want the pattern for the mods I made, I wrote it out in haste as I was going along, and I will attempt to transcribe it here in a more intelligible format, though it isn't really a standard-abbreviation type format. I won't promise that it actually works as written, but it should...

**This pattern is for the cream-colored version, since I don't really recommend using the brown yarn, or anything of its weight or other general characteristics, for future mitten-making. The feel of the Misti Alpaca is wonderful, but it would be better suited for something with less structure.**

* * * The Pattern * * *

First, follow the pattern for Fetching (which of course is copyrighted by Knitty), but do not work the thumbs. (I did a regular bind off, too, instead of the picot bind off, but you can go either way.)

Pick up the 17 sts as instructed in the original pattern.
Knit 7 rows.
Row 8:
(Left thumb) K 12, BO 5 sts
(Right thumb) K 7, BO 5 sts, K 5
Row 9:
(Left thumb) K 12, CO 5 sts - 17 sts total
(Right thumb) K7, CO 5 sts, K 5 - 17 sts total
Knit 7 rows.
Decreasing -
Row 1: 1st needle, K2tog 3 times, K 1; 2nd/3rd needle, K2tog 2 times, K 1.
Row 2: 1st needle, K2tog 2 times; 2nd/3rd needle, K2tog, K 1 - 2 sts per needle.
Cut yarn, thread tail through yarn needle and draw through all 6 loops, pull closed and weave in end.

Convertible Tops:
*Assuming there are 45 sts around your mitten in a 4x1 rib pattern*
Pick up 22 sts across back half of mitten, just above the last cable. CO 23 sts for front/palm of top flap and join to beginning. Sts should be divided across 4 dpns, with "Palm Side" on 2 needles and "Knuckle Side" on 2 needles.

Work 4 rows in 4x1 rib.
Work cable row as given in original pattern.
Work 5 rows in 4x1 rib.
Work cable row.
Work 12 rows in 4x1 rib.
Decreasing -
Row 1: Knuckle side - K 4, K2tog, K to last 6 sts, K2tog, K 4; Palm Side - K 4, K2tog, K to center, K2tog, K to last 6 sts, K2tog, K 4.
Row 2: Knuckle side - K 4, K2tog, K to last 6 sts, K2tog, K 4; Palm Side - Repeat Knuckle Side.
Row 3: Repeat row 2.
Row 4 & 5: Knuckle side - K 3, K2tog, K to last 5 sts, K2tog, K 3; Palm Side - Repeat Knuckle Side.
Row 6: Knuckle side - K 2, K2tog, K to last 4 sts, K2tog, K 2; Palm Side - Repeat.
Row 7: Knuckle side - K1, K2tog, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1; Palm Side - Repeat.
Cut yarn, thread tail through yarn needle, carefully turn mitten cap inside out. Run tail through sts, alternating between Knuckle and Palm Side sts for a straight seam across fingertips.

Attach buttons as desired to hold flap closed.

29 October 2006

Life After the Sweater's Completion

The Kimono Sweater is done, and yet the knitting goes on without missing a beat.

But before I even get started talking about new projects, I'd like to dive off into tangent-ness for a moment to talk about wearing hand-made items. I wore the new sweater to my gallery's opening Friday night. I always feel especially self-aware when I'm wearing things I've made, and particularly so when wearing them for the first time. I have a bunch of jewelry and a scarf or two, maybe a hat, etc, that I made so long ago that these things are now very much ingrained into my rotation of accessories, and these I wear now without a second thought (at least until somebody comments on them), but recently finished projects... I look down at the sleeve and relive every stitch; there's novelty in how the item drapes and feels and smells; I worry about what will happen if I get caught wearing it in the rain.

Only one person (my boss Nicole, who knows I knit) commented on the sweater Friday night to ask if I had made it myself, but I take that as a compliment - it looked nice enough to pass as storebought.

Anyhow, the world turns and I must move on into new endeavors. So... what's that brown lump over there? Hm?

Why, it's a Fetching fingerless glove, turned into a convertible mitten!!

Here's the top-up shot.

And here's the top down - back:

...and front.

These are for my mom, and hopefully they'll be done by the time I fly out to see her on Tuesday. Shouldn't be a problem, the first is finished and I'm making headway on the second. See? A whole cuff already.

They'll need buttons sewn on so that they hold closed a bit better, but I'll let her pick those out and I'll sew them on while I'm visiting.

The yarn is Misti Alpaca Sport, 100% baby alpaca, which I bought at Ewe Knits in Virginia Beach. Misti Alpaca's website says it's the "softest yarn ever" and that just may be true. It is not, however, the ideal yarn for this pattern. It's dark and fuzzy so it doesn't show off the cables or ribbing all that well, and it's a sport weight so I had to go and reconfigure the pattern for that, and the mitten is still a little, er, lacier than I wanted. Nonetheless, it is SOOO soft and putting it on my hand is a very pleasant experience. And it's very warm regardless of the slightly open stitches. Besides, my mom picked it out.

After that, I get into this stuff, but I'm not saying what it will be because it's a surprise for a friend.

27 October 2006

Kimono Styled Sweater

Here it is. Blocked, dry, and worn in public.

Pattern: Kimono Styled Sweater by KnitPicks

KnitPicks Elegance (70% Baby Alpace/30% Silk) in Lilac

Time Consumed: 9/30 - 10/24 (plus 2 days of drying after blocking)

There are a couple of errors in the pattern as written. For anyone attempting to work this sweater, my corrections are as follows~
1) In the "Fishernet Cable Pattern" the directions read "Rows 19-24: rep rows 1-6." This does not work. Instead I repeated rows 7-12, except on row 9 (aka 21) use a c4f instead of a c4b.
2) In the "Braided Cable Pattern" row 7 should be a "6-st Right Cable" instead of a "6-st Left Cable."
Other alterations I used included grafting the shoulder seams with kitchener stitch; using a provisional cast-on for the cuffs and then grafting those together; working the sleeves in the round instead of flat; and omitting the belt. I also recommend seaming the neckband on as you go instead of knitting the whole thing and then attaching it, guessing at the length.
Also I would like to mention that, while the sweater did expand slightly after blocking, it is still a little smaller than I would like it to be; you may want to make the size up from what the pattern tells you for your particular size.

My husband finds it funny to take pictures of my chest.

25 October 2006

Kimono Sweater, Blocking

That's right. The Kimono Sweater is finished. A real live FO.

The knitting and seaming were finished last night around 11:30. With the neckband, I was seaming as I went along, so there wasn't much finishing to do. I wove in all my loose ends before leaving for work this morning. See me model the sweater:

I have no head!!

It's a bit tight, as you can tell. But from there, it's off to the blocking part, which should improve the smallness issue. This is the first time I've ever blocked anything (a lot of firsts on this project), so hopefully I did everything properly. First, the shampoo-ey soak in lukewarm water:

Mmm, sudsy.

It was really quite surprising how much dye bled out in the water. Should I be worried about this? It doesn't look any worse for the wear afterward... Anyway, then the tub was drained and the sweater was rinsed:

A lot less bleeding here, but still some. I ran the whole thing under the faucet for a while until there wan't a whole lot of purple pouring out any more. Then a quick wringing out, followed by the towel squeeze. I was happy to have some bright purple towels so that additional bleeding wouldn't ruin anything.

Check out the wet spot on my knee.

Finally I laid it out, where I stretched it and shaped it until, well, actually it still looks about the same. Maybe a little bigger. I am working on convincing myself that it looks bigger. It's hard to tell. I should have measured. Damn me.

I'm not sure how long it'll be until it's dry. I don't think it's unreasonable to still expect to wear it Friday night for the opening reception. Right??

...Does it smell like wet llama in here to anybody else?


23 October 2006

Every Tree...

...Needs a treesweater.

You just can't look at that and not smile.

22 October 2006

Riley's Bath: A Pictorial Adventure

WARNING: Non-yarn-related content ahead!!!

"So, what are your plans for the day?"

"Ahhh, this feels so good, nothing bad could possibly happen from here."

"...I take that back."

"What? It's definitely worth $18 in shampoo if it makes me stop itching."

"(I don't want to admit that the soaping-up part actually feels pretty good.)"

"Get me out of the tub. Get me out of the tub. Get me out of the tub RIGHT FRICKIN' NOW."

"You know that no matter how long you spend toweling me off, I'm still going to shake and spray the bathroom with water when you're done."

Yep. Riley got his bath, and he lived through the day. He may even forgive me for the terrible insult of dunking him in the tub... perhaps around dinner time.

Oh, and there is knitting news:
My KnitPicks order came!! Yay. That's the yarn for Riley's sweater, plus some size 7 Bryspun straights, and the Stitch 'n Bitch Knitter's Calendar (because that put me over $40, to qualify for free shipping, and free shipping rocks).

21 October 2006

Kimono Sweater, Post #5

I am excruciatingly slow at seaming. I don't think it should have taken all night to attach one sleeve and then mattress stitch the rest of the left side together. But it did.

(Again with the bright red color in the photo. My camera does weird things sometimes.)

Ok, the speed problem is likely attributable to the fact that this is the first time I've ever done seams properly. Yes, you read that correctly. Up until now, I haven't known what I was doing while seaming.

It's not so bad though; this is only my third sweater, and the first one where seaming matters. The first one was deliberately 'punk' - I used red stitching on a black sweater - so I didn't care about nice, even, hidden seams, but wanted them to be blatant and maybe a little screwy. And my second sweater was made with a chunky boucle yarn so the seams were hidden regardless. The only other projects that have required any seaming have been bags, and those were felted - so again, proper technique was unnecessary.

This time, though, I wanted to get it right. I've invested too much time in the Kimono Sweater to have it ruined by wonky seams. So I pulled out my copy of Stitch 'n Bitch Nation and double checked the diagrams, and... well, I have to admit, it was like magic. (Very slow, deliberate magic.... but magic nonetheless.) The seam stitches disappeared, and I got nice even lines. What can I say. I impressed myself.

So the first sleeve is done. Yep, I stitched it onto the body before doing the second sleeve. I like to have as much of a project as I can consolidated into a single piece. Less work in the end that way. I've even woven in all my ends thus far. The second sleeve is about 3 inches long right now; that's 3 out of 18 inches, but those 3 were done in just over an hour so I'm not that concerned. I have that to finish, then the cabled neck band, and then blocking. (I decided to skip the belt, and DH concurred. He thinks the belt looks silly.)

And look what good knitting company I have. Brendon had been keeping his PS2 and a 13" tv on the ship, in his stateroom, but since yesterday was his last working day on the ship he brought it all home with him. Gran Turismo 4 has been running at our apartment pretty much non-stop since then. He's worked himself up to a Formula One Racer and something like 4.5 million "credits." I don't know if that means anything to anybody, I think it's supposed to be pretty impressive, but it definitely indicates that he's been getting in a lot of racing time while at work the last few weeks.

As for Riley, that's his favorite spot while I'm knitting. He lies there and insists I rub him with my feet while I work on whatever project I have. This probably contributes greatly to the amount of fur floating around the room to then get stuck in my yarn, but what can you do?

19 October 2006

Holy Crap and Hypochondria

The "Holy Crap" Part:

Seriously. 379 visitors?? (That's what my counter said before I started composing this post, anyway. No telling where it'll be when I finish.) I know I haven't posted for two whole days (BAD Cara!), but last time I did there were about 80 or 90 total visitors. And now I'm closing in on 400. It's quite insane.

Here's what happened: the "Kitty Squid." After I posted the pattern on.. I guess it was Saturday night, I sent a quick note to Crochet Pattern Central asking them to list it. Apparently yesterday, they did. And all those crocheters browsing through the site's "See What's New This Week" section are finding their way here. Welcome, guys (er, gals). Glad to have you.

Getting traffic and exposure was kind of the point of submitting to Crochet Pattern Central, but I absolutely was not expecting to get three times as many visitors in ONE DAY as I've had in the entire two and a half weeks that has been the life of this blog. I'm impressed. I know most of these people are just looking at the first picture and hitting the 'back' button, but still, I'm enjoying the attention. If you make the Kitty Squid, I'd love to hear about it. If you find any trouble spots in my pattern, let me know. If you have a blog of your own, link to me and I'll link to you back. And leave me comments!

The "Hypochondria" Part:

Around here, everyone seems to be getting sick lately. Maybe it's the weather. Not just the quick seasonal upheaval, but the past couple of days of rain as well. The fog this morning was rather romantic though, at least for photographic purposes. Not so much for trying to drive..

I stayed home sick from work yesterday, with a sinus headache of migraine proportions. Tuesday I'd had a sore throat and a bit of "post-nasal drip." Ew, I know, but I was still functional enough. Yesterday's headache squashed me. I got up, was getting ready for work, but every smell made me queasy, and if I bent over with my head below my shoulders (hair drying, petting the dog, getting the milk out of the fridge, etc.) I got dizzy... Not good. No amount of Excedrin Sinus seemed to do any good, either. Usually I'll swear by the stuff.

So I called in sick. After all, I have amassed 40+ hours of sick leave at work, and now I have less than 2 weeks before I take off. Might as well use a little of it. I grabbed my ice mask, crawled back in bed, and didn't get up again until noon. Once I could sit upright again, I worked on my sweater a little. Here's where I am now:

(Both cuffs done, and about 2/3 of one sleeve. I've long since given up my original hope of having it done Friday - yeah, tomorrow, Friday - but I still think I can be blocking by, let's say Monday night.)
Today I'm feeling a lot better, which is a real relief - my yoga friend has had whooping cough for, I don't know, at least 6 weeks now, though it was only diagnosed within the last 2 weeks. I was starting to worry I'd caught it from her. Even though the first signs are supposed to be cold-like symptoms, not sinus type symtoms... Hypochondria, you know how it is.

Also, Riley's health is in question (you know, the problem-dog?). He has been extremely itchy for the past week or so. I think it might be due to the massive change in his coat that goes on in the fall; he always seems itchy around this time of the year. Brendon and I have been brushing him about every other day or so, though it doesn't seem to help much. I did find a few little bumps on his skin, and he tends to be sensitive to skin allergies. So I'm not sure what's going on, I go out and buy some expensive medicated shampoo, and then I find..........

A FLEA!!! (Gasp!!)

Just one. Not on him, but on my bathroom rug. I have heard that there is never just one flea, but like I said, we've been brushing him a ton and this is the first one we've seen. And neither Brendon nor I have been itchy. So I'm hoping it's a fluke. Either way he's getting that medicated-shampoo-bath this weekend. Fleas or not, his scratching is driving me bonkers.

16 October 2006

Trying Out Beta

Of course, not much I can do if I don't like it, right?

As repeat readers will certainly notice, I have changed my template as well as made the move to Blogger Beta. That bandwagon rode up, and I just jumped right on it. By the way, you should probably know this about me - I'm a sucker for "New and Improved" and anything along those lines. It's especially bad at the grocery store, but it applies in other areas too.

I think I've gotten all my links back up and working, all my webrings showing, etc. It was a bit of a pain, but so far I think it's an improvement. I was getting a little sick of that dotty background. The plain blue is... sleeker. More focus on content. That's ideal.

15 October 2006

Kimono Sweater, Post #4

First and foremost:

My Dad turns 50 today! Happy Birthday Daddy!!

Now, on to business:

The body is done! The body is done!

I have grafted the shoulders together so I can wear it like a vest.

A couple of things worth noting:

1 - My lovely t-shirt tan.

2 - It's a little snug. Not so much that it's hard to get on and off, or that it's uncomfortable to wear, but enough that the cables are stretched out.

I'm hoping I can get it to loosen up a bit by blocking it.

Yep, looks like a vest. Of course, I haven't addressed the side seams at all yet, so there's the big gaping "arm hole."

At least this picture makes me look less wide around the middle than the previous one.

Here's the back. Again with the stretched-out cables. Contrarily, above the cables the back is a little baggy - but the side seaming ought to take care of that with no problem.

And no, I didn't quite get around to the loose ends. I chose the kitty toy (see below) over that yesterday evening.

The sleeves will be started today. Yay sleeves.

Hope crochet fans and cat owners out there dig my squid toy. Confession: it was designed under the influence of alcohol - but I don't believe it suffered much for it. In the pictures you can see (a) the corner of my glass, containing the last couple gulps of a mojito - yum - and (b) the knife and cutting board used to slice my lime and mint. Par-tay.

14 October 2006

Kitty Squid

***UPDATE 5/6/07: See how Kitty Squid is doing a small part to help kitties in need at Maine Coon Adoptions! (And YOU can help, TOO!)***

I designed this crocheted cat toy for a friend who's moving to Japan - but it should keep American kitties equally entertained. Lots of tentacles for utmost feline stimulation, plus a string on top for you to get in on the game.

Bear with me, this is the first pattern I've written. And by the way, the pictures don't do it justice.

~ Scrap yarn. I used worsted weight wool, but it shouldn't really make a difference.
~ Teensy amount of scrap yarn in contrasting color for eyes (optional).
~ Crochet hook, size needed to keep stitches tight enough to contain filling. (I use
d size G.)
~ Filling material. Poly, beans, etc. I used more scrap yarn.
~ Catnip (optional).
~ Yarn needle.


Mine is about 6" long, but will vary depending on yarn, hook, etc.

Pointy Top
Leaving a 24-inch tail (for interactive play) if desired:

1. Ch 13. Turn.
2. Dc in 3rd ch from hook. Along chain: dc in next ch, 3 tr, 2 dc, 1 hdc, 2 sc, 1 sl st.
3. Along opposite side of chain: 1 sl st, 2 sc, 1 hdc, 2 dc, 3 tr, 3 dc.
4. Cut.

Repeat steps 1-3 to make a second piece. After last dc, turn, then join the two pieces with sl st around perimeter, leaving the "dc" end open. Do not cut.

Work 10 sc around open space, in dc's of "pointy top" section. Join in the round.

Rows 1-2: Sc in each sc around - 10 sc.
Row 3: *Sc in next sc; 2 sc in next sc. Repeat from * around - 15 sc in row.
Row 4: Sc in each sc around - 15 sc.

Row 5: *Sc in each of next 2 sc; 2 sc in next sc. Repeat from * around - 20 sc in row.
Rows 6-10: Sc in each sc around - 20 sc.

1. Sl st in next sc of body.
2. Ch 16. Turn.
3. Sc in 2nd ch from hook; sc in each ch.
4. Sl st to join to next sc of body.

Repeat steps 1-4 five more times around body - 6 legs total.
(NOTE: Keep your sc's tighter than your ch's to make the legs twist.)

1. Sl st in next sc of body.
2. Ch 25. Turn.
3. Sc in 2nd ch from hook; dc in each of next 2 ch; tr in each of next 3 ch; dc in each of next 2 ch; sc in rest of ch.

4. Sl st to join to next sc of body.
Repeat steps 1-4 once more - 2 tentacles.

Make 2 additional legs - total 8 legs, 2 tentacles. Cut, leaving a 12" tail.

Stuff with filling and catnip, if desired. Use tail to sew up opening between legs/tentacles.

EYES (optional)

1. With contrasting color, ch 4 and join in the round with sl st.
2. 2 sc in each ch around. Sl st to join. Cut.
Make two; sew to toy above legs.

Progress Report

The air outside is just crisp enough that I remember why I love October. It makes me feel energized. Time to dig out the cool weather clothes from under the bed, and hurry up with those winter projects.

I've been productive since my last post, both knitting and otherwise.

On the home front:

While it may not appear any 'neater' per se, we actually accomplished a lot yesterday with those boxes. As you can see, they are no longer towering precariously above the room, but instead have taken over all available floorspace so that to get into the office we have to do a bit of leaping and twisting and other assorted dance moves. But the cubby hole in the wall is now completely packed and ready to be taken away, and all the stuff we might want to access (or at least not pack away just yet) that was back there is now elsewhere and, well, accessible. Ditto on the closet, or at least pretty close.

My yarn stash has been divided up into the things I can bear to part with until February (on the right, in the cardboard box), things I'm either working on in the next few weeks or am taking to Rhode Island (on the left, in the Rubbermaid tub), and the cheap, acrylic, horribly peach baby yarn that was passed on to me by somebody else which I am going to take to Goodwill (center, plastic bag). I actually, strangely enough, do not know any babies, or at least not any that I feel compelled to knit/crochet for.

My lovely husband wrote on the cardboard box: "NO MORE YARN." Isn't that cute?

A brief update on my Kimono Sweater progress:

I finished the back, as well as the right front panel, and have in fact connected the two so that it's now a quasi-vest. Furthermore, I have about 6 inches' length on the left front panel, and if we sit down and put on another Netflix movie tonight I should be able to wrap that up, graft it to the back, and weave in all the ends before the day is through. I love how quickly stockinette goes. I admit it gets boring when the whole project is stockinette, but when it's only parts of the project, I find myself looking forward to those parts. Instant gratification.

By the way, I was knitting in the waiting room while getting my truck's oil changed yesterday, and an older lady waiting with me commented how pleased she was that knitting "is not a dying art among today's youth." So I had to politely educate her that it's enjoying a major cultural upswing these days. She seemed impressed.

When I do finish the second half of the front, I will put my sweater on vest-style and take some pictures. Hopefully by tomorrow you can see.

Looking forward:

I have put in an order with KnitPicks for a bunch of Swish Superwash in assorted colors for the dog sweater I'm planning for Riley. I've chosen this yarn because it's a worsted weight, 100% wool, which will be ideal for keeping his old achy bones nice and warm; plus it's superwash, since it's for a dog, and a low-slung dog at that (he has perhaps 2 inches of ground clearance at the bottom of his chest), and therefore it will likely get icky regularly. Plus it's $3.29 per 50 gram ball so how can you argue with that? I don't think Lion Brand is that cheap, at least at the Michael's near my house, and I definitely prefer the Swish. Do you like the color combo? Hopefully they'll turn out pretty close in person to the picture here. I guess I'll find out in 5-14 days. I've picked out a stitch pattern for the sweater, too, that I think will be pretty interesting, but I'm not yet ready to reveal what it is - not until I've started working on it, to make sure it goes like I want it to. (Plus, I don't want anybody to steal my idea before I even get started! I promise when it's done I'll post the pattern, and then you can use it all you want.)

Also, I agreed to make a kitty toy for a friend who's about to move to Japan. And since that is mere days away, it looks like I'm going to have to interrupt the sweater for a quickie project. You know what that means? It means I'll actually post project pictures that are something OTHER than the Kimono Sweater! Crazy. I can't find any patterns I love, so I guess I'll be making one up. I think it's going to be a squid. Crocheted, definitely. Tomorrow/Monday timeframe? Stay tuned...

12 October 2006

Madness Reigns Supreme

...In my apartment, that is.

You know how I'm moving next month and then moving again 3 months later? Who could have predicted that this little event could have thrown my apartment into complete chaos? That is, further chaos than on any average day at my apartment. I'm really not that into cleaning.

There was no problem until DH and I drove the pickup to his mother's house this past weekend and collected all the furniture and assorted other things she's been storing for us. She was storing things because, well, she lives by herself in a three bedroom house with an attic, and Brendon and I live in a 700 square foot, one bedroom apartment with all closets already jammed full of year-plus-old wedding presents that still haven't made it out of their boxes. But in a couple of weeks, the Navy is sending movers out to our apartment, so it makes sense having all this stored furniture there for them to pick up and take with the rest of our stuff, so we don't have to worry about how we'll get it down to Jacksonville ourselves later on. It just means there will be a few weeks where I'm tearing my hair out because I can't walk through my own house or find anything when I need it.

See, we don't exactly have a dining room for the table my mother in law kept for us when she bought her new dining room set. But now... the table is in our "office," in pieces. Along with the rocking chair that I was rocked in as a baby (which went to my MIL's house when my parents moved, again because of the space issue at our apartment). Then there are a bunch of Rubbermaid tubs holding all the contents of Brendon's old bookcase. And then, to make the whole thing that much more ridiculous, yesterday I picked up all the leftover boxes from my friend Rachel's recent cross-town move, and they are currently towering over the mess, just mocking me. I mean, really. I just can't take it.

The point of bringing in the boxes in was so that we could pack everything in that room up and just give in to the fact that the room has become an inaccessible storage room instead of the office it once was. I know we aren't going to get to that project before the weekend. Until then, I just don't even want to be in the apartment at all. The killer is - and this is the whole reason I'm bothering to post any of this long complaint on this blog - that my yarn stash, hooks and needles, books, and general yarn artifacts are directly on the opposite side of that tower o' boxes, in the cubby-hole you can kind of see carved out of that wall. (Rest assured, I do have my current project safely away from all of that madness, but everything else is back there, out of reach.) It makes me want to cry.

Riley isn't too happy about the mess either. He has been through enough moves that I think he has a sense of what's going on, and he's freaking out a little. Poor little guy.

On the upside, I did get to make an excursion into the social scene last night. Brendon and I went out with a couple of friends from his ship, one of whom is about to leave for her next tour in Japan. This translated into a dinner of German food and a bunch of expensive imported beer at the Bier Garden in Portsmouth. Mmmm, expensive imported beer. I had an Oktoberfest I can neither spell nor pronounce, followed by a Wiehenstephaner. The only other time I've had a Wiehenstephaner was when we were actually in Germany by accident. If you can find it, I recommend it. And by the way, October is the best month for beer. Especially German beer.

At any rate, I haven't gotten a lot of knitting done these last couple days. Oops.

10 October 2006


I want one of these very badly. Or, maybe one of these, to better fit in the project bag I'm dreaming up. (If I weren't already concocting my ultimate project bag, I would love one of the Offhand Designs full size bags as well. Probably this one.)

Anybody doing any early Christmas shopping? Brendon, are you reading this?

Kimono Sweater, Post #3

As you already know, it was a VERY productive long Columbus Day weekend in NC, at least in terms of my sweater. (By the way, when the gallery where you work part-time is owned by the city, and your husband works for the federal government/military, you get all the holidays off.) I can't really explain it, but for whatever reason I was just absolutely unable to put my knitting down. In my sickness, I even worked on it in the car on the 4 hour drive back home. In this last instance, I attempted to resist pulling the project out of the bag, but Brendon could see me getting fidgety and said, "You're wanting to knit, aren't you?" He managed to convince me that actually knitting in the car was possibly less obsessive and crazy than sitting there thinking about knitting, working the pattern in my head without working it in my hands. So I caved.
Anyway, I'm back in Virginia, which means I once again have my camera and can take some pictures of my progress! Want to see??

You can see that I did finally finish that long and painful cable pattern. Alright, alright, it truly wasn't all that painful after the first of the 3 repeats, once I got comfortable with the pattern and was able to anticipate the next step, plus having fixed that one major mistake of a row, etc - but it remained very 'involved' anyway. After switching over to stockinette, though, it's going marvelously quickly. In one day's work in SS, I already have just about half the length of the back panel done, compared with what, a bit under 2 weeks to do the cables?? By the way, this is the first time I've used my rosewood needles, and I LOVE THEM. Period.
I would also like to mention that I remain very pleased with the Elegance yarn from Knitpicks. Working it in stockinette, it turns out so soft that the word "luscious" comes to mind. The silk really gives it a nice sort of subtle sheen, especially in the sunlight. I have no trouble at all keeping the stockinette stitches even. The color really looks quite different depending on the light it's in, from a red-grape type color in high wattage or natural light, to a more blue shade under softer light. It's really unusual. Since it's 70% alpaca, it does have a slight halo, but so far, pre-washing, it doesn't seem to shed at all. (Though it does attract the dog hair that covers my apartment quite well.)
Here is an up-close shot of the cables, since I'm so proud of them. I know I was just talking about the complexity of colors that this yarn takes on, but the red you see here is to be blamed on the camera. I don't know what happened there. It is definitely not that red, really.
I am feeling very positive about the amount of work and the quality of work I was able to turn out over the last few days, and I'm very optimistic about finishing the Kimono sweater in time for the opening on the 27th. It might not be done on the 20th like I wanted, because there are still other cabled sections yet to go, but we'll see. So far I'm not the least bit sick of it, particularly since that first part is over, so that's a good sign.
I would like to clarify that the trip to NC did involve other activities besides those of the yarn-ish variety. There was furniture moving, shopping, catching up with old friends, eating out at some of our old favorite places, and even a trip over to Raleigh for a concert: a small-club, multi-band benefit for Alzheimers. We went there specifically to see Parklife, whose lead singer is a friend of Brendon's from back when Brendon and his mom went to all the Cravin Melon shows they could. Parklife even played at our wedding reception, at least until the noise brought the police out to the scene.
In spite of all this, I won't deny that the majority of my time in Greensboro was spent with needles in hand. My friend Bethany, who knitted with me on Sunday, told me that knitting can truly be a physical addiction; that the repetitive motion releases pleasure chemicals in the brain - much like chocolate does. Or sex. I'm not sure where she picked up that little tidbit, but I tend to believe it. It's kind of nice to think that I can't actually control the obsession.

08 October 2006

Rainy Days

It has been cold and drizzling in North Carolina since we got here. And I did not pack very well for our trip. I guess I wasn't expecting such drastic change in season at such short notice. I mean, last week in VA where I live, as well as NC, it was gorgeous outside: 80s during the day, 65 at night. Now, suddenly it's a high of 59 degrees and non-stop mist, only interrupted by the occasional downpour. Ick.

This afternoon I caught up with my best friend from high school. As it turns out, she picked up knitting shortly after I did (completely separately). She and I got lunch, hit Macy's (a Hecht's until about a month ago), and then attempted to go to Greensboro's LYS, which I hadn't ever been to, only to find it closed. Silly South, shutting down on Sundays. Oh well. We stopped back by her house, grabbed her current project - a sweater she started last night for her husband - then spent the afternoon knitting away. She is making it up as she goes along, which I think is admirable, but she insists it's impressive that I can follow a pattern "what with all those abbreviations." Different styles suit different people, I guess.

Only 6 more rows of cables to go. Should be no problem to knock that out tonight. I think the boys are getting together for more video games, and you know what that means!

07 October 2006

Checking In From NC

Our long weekend at the MIL's is going pretty well, if uneventful. Yesterday there was a lot of sitting around going on - Brendon watched tv while I knit; he read a new Car magazine while I knit; his mom came home from work and we all visited while I knit; we went over to an old friend's house where the boys played video games until after midnight... while I knit. Needless to say, I've made some fantastic progress with that sweater. (If I had remembered to grab the camera while we were packing, I could show everyone, but we were kind of in a hurry to get on the road.) And whenever my fingers started getting tired, I picked up the copy of the Yarn Harlot - Secret Life of a Knitter that my sweet husband was kind enough to buy me while at B&N getting his new Car mag.

Brendon and I had a long chat in which he expressed quite a bit of surprise at the prevalence of the yarn-obsessed community as I explained it to him. Non-knitters do not understand. But, well, he's trying. I think he was under the impression that I may be going through a phase; now he's beginning to see that I am getting sucked into an entire "underground" culture. We've all heard that in the last 10 years, the number of women under 45 who know how to knit has more than doubled, and that is fantastic. Good for us.

(I've offered to teach DH how to knit and/or crochet on multiple occasions, but he acts like I've insulted his masculinity by even suggesting it. Alas, the stigma is still upon us. One day I will post extensively about this, but that will not be today. I'm not really in the mood for a rant.)

Anyway, if I had brought my camera you could see how much Riley (the dog) is enjoying having a real yard to romp in, instead of our apartment with its orderly sidewalks and zillions of stairs. I promised him in Jacksonville we'll live in a real house with a real yard, too. He's also enjoying making my MIL's two cats cower under the bed all day long, just by his mere doggy presence. He's having a great weekend.

This afternoon, Brendon gets to move furniture for his mom - and I think I'll be skipping that. The yarn beckons...

05 October 2006

A Plethora of Projects

I have made myself a knitting schedule. (I'm starting to think I have a problem, for which I should seek professional help.) Projects and intended dates are as follows:

Kimono Styled Sweater: Begun Sept. 30. Everyone already knows this is the current project. I need to have it finished by October 27 for an event - the last opening reception at the gallery where I work before I leave my job for the big move. I hope to have the sweater finished sooner than that. So far I'm only at 5 inches complete, but this weekend I will definitely (craziness?) have the initial cabling done - we're spending the weekend at my MIL's - and after that I should fly through the rest until I get to the neck band. Goal: 9/30-10/20.

Modified Fetching Convertible Mittens: I have previously made these twice, for myself and then my friend Rachel. Then my mom was visiting and I showed mine off, and now I get to make some for her! We stopped by Ewe Knits in Virginia Beach while she was in town, where she picked out some 100% baby alpaca. It's a DK weight instead of a chunky so I'm going to have to further modify my already modified pattern, but it should still go really quickly. I need to have it finished by the beginning of November when DH and I fly out to California to visit M & D. Goal: 10/21-10/24.

Crochet Shopping Bag: For my Newport market shopping. This one is meant to occupy my down time while we're in California on the aforementioned parental visit. Goal: 10/31-11/07.

Corgi Sweater and Matching Booties: Yes, corgis come from Wales, and yes, I believe Wales gets a little chilly. But MY corgi has never been to Wales, and despite his fairly thick coat, he has lived his whole life in the sunny south, in NC and VA. Plus he's got a little bit of arthritis these days. So in order to protect him from the frigid Rhode Island winter, I'll be making (and designing!) him a nice knit sweater plus some little leather-soled boots to keep his feetsies warm in the snow. This will be a superwash wool of some sort. We go to Newport 11/20, so I need to get this done not much after that. Goal: 11/08-11/20ish

Leo Sweater for Brendon: Begun 9/19. Apparently among the most popular of the men's sweater patterns floating around out there. This is a WIP, and will be sort of my background project over the next couple of months. The back is complete, with the ends woven in and everything. I tell you what, working on #3's and 4's is tough on my hands. I was knitting this thing until I couldn't hold the needles any more. Future work on the Leo will happen in between other projects, when I get bored with them or when I finish one early. If it's not done by the time we're in Newport, all my knitting attention goes to it, and ideally it'll be done by December so there will still be lots of good sweater-wearing time this year. I don't like to have UFOs. Drives me kookoo. Goal: 9/19-11/30.

Assorted Holiday Gifts: Actually I don't have plans for these yet. They may not even happen. At first I was optimistic and thought, "Sweaters for everyone!! Mom, Dad, MIL, Brother, DH, maybe even one for me, too, Merry Christmas to me!" But... yeah. Now it's October, and I already have a knitting schedule through the beginning of December, so the sweaters are DEFINITELY not happening. Now it's more like, "Socks all around!" - if that. Even that is a bit ambitious. Still, as to Brendon, if he's willing to forgive a very late Christmas present, I've been eyeing the Durrow sweater at MagKnits lately. That is, should I choose to make him two - scratch that, THREE - sweaters for one winter! (In addition to the Leo I'm working on, I also made him the Jolly Roger out of Debbie Stoller's The Happy Hooker in black with red - it's quite punk and lovely.) Maybe sweater year will be next year. I'll start in June.

INTO 2007: I've been dreaming of afghans, and I think January-February may be dedicated to a really stunning one. What it will look like, I don't yet know, but it should be really nice just sitting under it as it's in progress while in RI. I also have plans for a really gorgeous project bag made with a combination of felted wool and recycled sari silk. I have made some sketches, browsed through handpainted wool, and scouted the best prices on the sari silk already, and I likely won't start it until mid-February at the earliest! After that, it'll be time to think about short sleeves and lightweight fibers, as I head down to Jacksonville and brace myself for the upcoming summer.

And other things are bound to pop up in between. That's just the way it all... unravels.

04 October 2006

Kimono Sweater, Post #2

The sweater is definitely fixed now. That row of misturned cables is back on track.

Unfortunately I didn't get much knitting time in yesterday: very shortly after getting home from work, DH dragged me out of the house so he could go get his brand new tires put on his Mini. (By the way, it's wonderful when you know people who can help you out, because those tires were put on for free, thank you very much Nadon!) Then to dinner, and yoga afterward; and with the major disaster of Lisa, my yoga buddy, forgetting her rings at the gym and our having to turn around from 2-miles-from-home and go back for them, I didn't get home until 10:30 p.m. Now, in my younger, college-era days - of, you know, 2 whole years ago - 10:30 was still practically mid-day. But now that I'm married to a military man, that's nearly two hours past bedtime.

By the way, Brendon, when you're on the ship overnight, and especially when you are at sea for a while, I do revert to my old ways and stay up often well into the a.m. hours. And often it's because I HAVE to get past just one, or five, or twenty more rows.

So anyway, I have redone the erroneous row, but I have not yet had the chance to make up the other several rows I ripped in order to get there. I have, however, confirmed that the pattern is written incorrectly exactly where I thought it was, by drawing it out in multiple colored highlighters on graph paper at work this morning. Have I mentioned yet that I'm a complete nerd? Ok, so what, I was bored, and I happened to have stuck the pattern into my purse as I headed out this morning so I could ponder over it if I got the chance. I feel completely validated after doing this. Instead of repeating rows 1-6, I'm repeating rows 7-12, except on row 21/9 I'm doing c4f's instead of c4b's. Hope that helps anybody who might be making the sweater.

Still, I should have been able to catch that little switcheroo in the cable directions just by looking at the picture. That's what I get for trying to knit while watching Kill Bill Vol. 1, even if it was for the umpteenth time. I ought to know better than to KWD (knit while distracted), at least with complicated cables at hand. Usually I prefer to do my more intricate projects with something I can easily tune out, like TLC or Discovery Channel, on tv. I do enjoy the background noise. Not so much the split focus.

On a slightly different note, I Googled "Kimono Styled Sweater" and turned up a lot of results, but most of the hits were people who liked the pattern, coveted it or had it in their upcoming project list. I was only able to come across one instance where somebody had actually completed it, which can be found here. Tanya, it looks beautiful. I agree with one of the comments you got, it is much nicer than the picture of the model that comes with the pattern. Tanya's full blog is found here. In addition to proving how lovely the sweater is when finished, she also verified the problem I was having with the pattern. It's nice to know I'm not a loony-tune.

03 October 2006

Kimono Sweater, Post #1

So, with my knitting history out of the way, let's move on to the present, with the current project at my fingertips. At the moment I am working on the "Kimono Styled Sweater" from KnitPicks. No, it isn't a free pattern, but I really liked it so I forked out the two bucks.

I have to say that in general I have been very pleased with KnitPicks. I was a little wary when I first came across their site - how could yarns that cheap be of respectable quality? But I couldn't argue with the prices, and I started out with little orders for little projects, and now I have ordered 3 different yarn lines in 4 total colors from them and have yet to be disappointed at all. The one thing I'll mention is that none of the yarn colors have been precisely accurate compared with either my home or work monitors' displays; they have all been somewhat... brighter, i guess, in person. Still, as long as you aren't extremely particular about your exact shade, then I highly recommend their yarns. (In a perfect world, I would never buy yarn without seeing it - and touching it - in person, but I can't always find or afford the yarn I want. I guess it just isn't a perfect world.) Everything I've bought from KnitPicks has been extremely soft and pretty agreeable to work with.

For the Kimono sweater, I'm using their
Elegance yarn in Lilac. I started it 3 days ago and last night finished the first iteration (of 3) of the 24-rows of cable pattern for the 'tummy' part.

(Forgive the image. It was dark in my house when I took the picture.)

What you see is about 3, maybe 4 inches long at this point, and while on the needles it doesn't look like it will actually fit around my middle. However, I did my guage and it worked out like it was supposed to, so I'm just following the pattern and hoping for some stretch. The pattern has been... intricate. Or painstaking. Something along those lines. AND I don't believe it's written correctly, in one little sentence that turns out to be a MAJOR detail. I can't post the pattern here, of course, since it isn't a free pattern (it cost $1.99), but it tells you to repeat some rows that, at least when I tried to puzzle through it, didn't seem to be quite right. So I thought I had figured out which rows I should be repeating, instead of the ones I was told to repeat, and worked through those, and then after I took the picture above and went back to work, I realized that by following these alternate rows, I had turned my cables the wrong way. Not just on one or two cables, mind you, but for the entire row. See, where the little arrow is pointing? That should be going in the other direction. So I ripped out about a half dozen rows, and now I don't have quite as much done as you see above. Fortunately, though, I was able to pick up all my little loops again neatly enough, and this evening I will get everything back on track. I will let you know if I figure out where it was either me or the pattern who went awry at that one critical bit.

(I would have already been at this thing redoing it and reexamining the written pattern, because it's driving me crazy thinking about it... But, ahem, currently I am posting from work. And while I do get enough down time at work to mess around on the internet and update my blog, I don't think they would appreciate it if i were sitting at my desk with needles in hand. At least not on a weekday.)

So... yes. More on this later.

02 October 2006

Enter Newport

And now for the second half of the tale of how I was transformed from a casual, occasional yarncrafter into the consumed, obsessed knitter I am today.

It was only a couple of weeks after I had so tragically lost my laptop (see previous post) that Brendon, my Navy husband, received his PCS orders. For the non-military folks out there, that is "Permanent Change of Station" - it means he's coming to the end of his stay on the ship he's been on for the last two and a half years, and these orders tell him where he's going next. At the moment, he is stationed in Norfolk, VA, on a great big Marine-taxi type of ship, and in February he will be stationed in Jacksonville, FL, on a little tiny Frigate. But in between then and now, he has to go to a 3-month-long school on how to run a jet engine (because that's what powers destroyers, apparently) in Newport, RI. As for me, I am not all that strongly tied to Virginia; my family is far away, I only have a couple of close friends here, and my job is only part-time. Which means, in short, that I decided to go to Newport with him. From November until February. And I hear Rhode Island tends to be a bit chilly during the winter time. (Then moving to Florida for the following summer? I guess the Navy has a sense of humor after all!)

Timing is everything. In the wake of the laptop's death, my restless fingers plus my trepidation toward the frigid winter ahead led me to start browsing the internet for free patterns for hats, scarves, mittens, etc. During this initial search, I came across Knitty more than once, and while intrigued, I was not quite yet captivated by it - remember, I was still just knitting and purling, none of that advanced stuff. But I was struck by an adorable pattern at Lion Brand's website - the "Quick Cabled Hat" (I think you have to be a member of Lion Brand to use that link, but it's free!) - and I went out and bought my first cable needles. Ta da!

Ok, in the picture, the "ears" look a little wonky, but with a little grooming they do stand up properly. It's made with a chunky alpaca/cashmere blend I found at A.C. Moore, which, yes, is one of those giant mega-craft stores. I had not yet learned the bounty of goodness to be found at LYS, nor what those initials even stood for. I had, actually, never even heard the term. Sad, isn't it? But with this little hat, I felt such a sense of accomplishment, such a feeling of "That was easier than I thought!" - I was really hooked. The hat needed matching mittens, a scarf, and it began to snowball out of control.

The mittens are when I really discovered the wonders of Knitty, when I used their Fetching fingerless gloves and added my own thumb and mitten caps and a couple of buttons to turn them into convertible mittens. The scarf came out of a book I bought at Barnes & Noble at that time - Debbie Stoller's The Happy Hooker. (Yes, I crocheted a scarf to match knitted hat and mittens... So what?) And all those free internet patterns I had printed out became not possible projects I might consider doing, but a schedule. A few sweaters even slipped in there - I felt ready.

The more I learned of the knitting culture, the further in I felt myself drawn. I bought the rest of Stoller's books. I visited two of Virginia Beach's yarn stores. I joined the mailing list for not only Knitty, but also Crochet Me and MagKnits - and browsed their archives of patterns and articles. I started reading the famous Yarn Harlot blog. Since July, I have made the aforementioned hat/scarf/mittens set, plus a copy of each for an envious friend; an additional hat and scarf pair; a crocheted bracelet bag with one of those big ol' crochet roses sewed on it for a wedding I attended; and two complete sweaters - the Jolly Roger from The Happy Hooker and Lion Brand's Mystery Sweater. And my plans for upcoming projects are probably not actually attainable in one single lifetime.

The thing is, while it started out being centered on Newport and the cold weather, I don't expect the mania I'm experiencing will die down after I leave the Northeast. I think about the imminent move to Florida, and I want to experiment with a whole different breed of fiber - not just cotton, but silk, maybe soy and bamboo... This is one of the first summer projects I intend to make.

My husband thinks I'm a lunatic.

By the way, tomorrow I intend to start posting permanent links on this blog.

By Way of Exposition

Before I move forward in the chronicles, perhaps I should give a bit of background as to how the obsession came about, because it does have definite roots. Until somewhat recently, I was only a casual yarncrafter. Most of my efforts were put toward scarves and matching hats (especially around Christmas time), plus two or three blankets I gave away as very special gifts, a couple of knitted helmetliners for the boys in Afghanistan, a few adventures in felted bags, and a beaded crocheted wedding purse which I consider my highest achievement, at least in these early, pre-full-blown-obsession days. Here it is, you may not be able to see the detail, but you can get the idea:

(The pattern for this bag - which I did carry at my wedding - is from Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet.) It might sound like a pretty fair turnout of projects, but you must understand that this list of projects spans about a three-year period. Furthermore, while my crocheting skills were fairly advanced, my knitting had not really progressed beyond garter and stockinette stitch, with perhaps an occasional I-cord if absolutely necessary. My creativity was split between yarn and beads and, once in a while, a paintbrush; and none of these was really a daily habit. Then, around the end of May this year, my dog (a gigantic, 50 lb, 10-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Riley) began suffering a series of mysterious health problems.

(Me, pre haircut, with healthy Riley)

(Riley at the start of his health issues. Note the icky foot.)

Anyway, I will spare the details but to say that between May and June we were at the vet for assorted things about 8 or 10 different times. The culmination of the series of my dog's strange health issues came in the form of severe nosebleeds. (My vet, who is not my favorite person in the world, started talking to me about the possibility of nasal tumors, and how sometimes the treatment involves amputation of part or all of the dog's muzzle, and how he had seen dogs recover "remarkably well functionally, though maybe not aesthetically" from such a procedure.... Eww. Don't worry, it didn't happen to Riley.) One afternoon in June, I was in my comfy oversized chair - aka my work station - with my laptop perched on the chair's arm and the tv on, when I heard some doggy sneezing and sputtering going on. I glanced over and sure enough, Riley was sneezing blood all over the carpet. Leaping up to go help him, or at least move him hastily to tiled flooring, I knocked my laptop off the arm of the chair and cracked the display.

At the time, whenever I was home, I had been playing quite a bit of Sid Meier's Civilization III. I had purchased Civ IV, but my laptop was 5 years old and wouldn't run such a beast. And even when I wasn't playing Civ, I was on my laptop doing something or other, with the tv on and my brian cells essentially being sucked out of my head. So the death of my laptop was a little bit devastating. Sure, I could have replaced the screen, but as I said, the thing was 5 years old and it probably wasn't worth the cost of a new screen. But a new laptop wasn't really in the budget, especially with the mounting vet bills, and particularly when we do own a very nice desktop computer (which does, by the way, run Civ IV); a friend had built the tower for us not 6 months earlier, and the monitor, well, words cannot describe it. See?

That keyboard, by the way, is normal sized. Plus, the thing does picture-in-picture, so that you can watch tv and do computer-y stuff at the same time, on the same screen. The only problem is that my husband is usually parked in front of it. That, and the office chair is not nearly as comfortable as the big comfy chair I always sat in with my laptop. Still, I had to cope at least for the time being, and the outcome was that my major pastimes of gaming and internet browsing were no longer such an integral part of my day, and a void started to appear. I couldn't sit around and JUST watch tv. I had to have something to occupy my hands...