Monday, April 28, 2008

Miles to go before I sleep, or knitting frustrations...

The Chevron that won't die...
Sometimes knitting makes me want to stick a needle in my eye. Certain projects just seem to go on and on with no end in sight, and after several days make you wonder if you're not really knitting but are instead stuck in a parallel universe, rowing in some galley on a tyrannical ogre's ship on the high seas...Yes, this is how the Chevron is making me feel right now. Hey, guess what's not helping? Looking on Ravelry (it's not all sweetness and light, folks) and seeing people post their stats like "Chevron for Nana: Started April 8th, Finished April 11th", with some commentary along the lines of "Yeah I worked on this off and on while also finishing a major project due at work and having outpatient surgery". Are people lying, is this like fibbing about your weight on your driver's license, or are people actually that fast? Because I really need to know so I can recalibrate. I am told by many people in my life that all I do is knit, and yet I don't seem to be nearly as fast as some of you all out there. Color me a wee-bit frustrated.
Chevron update: several months later...
Is there something that I'm not getting here? I know that switching to Continental is an obvious solution, and am planning on giving it serious consideration (after the semester is over). But this whole Chevron incident has brought my knitting weaknesses to the surface, so naturally I am wondering the following: What are YOUR knitting insecurities? What frustrations do you currently have? Careful, misery loves company, and I am that person who will snare you and drag you down, but since you've already read this wretched post, won't you please join me in my knitting bad place?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good Knitting Karma

EZ Feb. Baby Sweater
Last week my ex-husband and his truly sweet wife had a teeny, tiny baby little baby girl in Ireland. This means that my daughters are now big sisters, and once the whole crew moves back to New York in August, the girls will have a new baby sister in their lives on a very regular basis. We coo at her daily on the video Skype feeds (anyone with people in foreign countries needs this free service NOW) and she is just about the most precious little thing ever!

EZ Feb. Baby Sweater
Now you can imagine that a 42 year old tough broad such as myself could have gone either way about this whole baby thing, right? Wasn't the choice between some sort of pathetic bitterness leading to quiet, stoic acceptance or sheer, unbridled enthusiasm? Well I have opted for the latter and it is such the better choice. It's a win-win situation: there's a new baby in the family, the girls have a little sibling, I get to knit for a little tot and thereby hopefully extend my good knitting karma, the girls will go to Ireland for the month of July, I still get to go to Paris with the Curmudgeon of my dreams, and I don't have hemorrhoids and am forever finished with Tucks pads! Seriously, we are all thrilled. This baby has so many people loving her already, and that is as it should be.
EZ Feb. Baby Sweater
Did I mention that the little babe was barely a five pounder? This means that a teeny, tiny sweater was in order. I decided to go for the EZ Feb. Baby Sweater on Two Needles, my go-to baby girl pattern. Such a winner.
The Specs:
Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles (Feb. baby sweater)
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy in Beach Fog, about 1/3 of the skein, max.
Needles: size 3 addi turbos
Mods: Since this little babe is extra tiny, I went with the smaller needle size and started the lace pattern after only 2 1/2 inches. Peeper-lou said that she wanted the sweater to have cap sleeves, and I was only too happy to oblige. The buttons are from Natural Stitches.
EZ Feb. Baby Sweater
I just loved Dream in Color, the yardage is unbelievable and the color is just variegated enough to be interesting but is in no way loud or garish, two qualities that I think we all are looking to avoid.
Malabrigo 'Pollen'
More evidence that Ravelry ate my brain: This past weekend I went to Natural Stitches in Pittsburgh, and when faced with their gigantic selection of Malabrigo, I came home with three skeins of Pollen. At the time I thought it was an odd choice, but it felt right. Later that evening I checked on the Malabrigo board on Ravelry and saw that not only had there been a thread about 'What to do with three skeins of Pollen?', but that I had participated in it! I mean, I always knew dementia was coming my way, but so soon?
It was so much fun reading everyone's fave ravspects, thanks for all your comments. The lucky winner of the Phildar Préface yarn is Susan of Knitting as Fast as I can. Congrats, Susan!

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Ravelversary Contest!

My brother is the king of neologisms. He has mastered the art of creating hilarious words that instantly seem at once insane and indispensable. In his former back yard we had drinks in the 'yogazebo', a structure that would be perfect for yoga if either one of us were even remotely interested in physical activity. He talks about having 'snackitude', that is, a snack-positive attitude (we both have it). And the B-52's are a 'party-centric' band, an element that makes the Darling Resident Marxist Curmudgeon write them off. Now I've come up with my very own made -up word with a meaning all its' own: Ravelversary!
Phildar sock yarn 'Préface'
This month represents a year that I have been on Ravelry and experiencing the endlessly mind-blowing elements that it has to offer. It is my Ravelversary. Just when you think you have discovered everything there is to love about Ravelry, you come upon a new feature that is suddenly indispensable. I have recently mentioned the 'friend activity' button and the new worlds it has opened up for me. Now I want you to tell me about your favorite new aspect of Ravelry and leave a comment on this post before midnight on 4/23, at which time I'll draw a random winner. Your prize? The above-pictured yarn souvenir from the Phildar shop in Montpellier. This was the only souvenir I purchased on my recent trip to France (except for the scads o' cash that I spent in the pharmacie on French shampoo and effervescent vitamins, but that doesn't count) and I want one of you to have it!
So, what is your new fave Ravpplication? How do you Ravelfy these days? Don't be a Ravtard and answer the question...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pain d'épices socks...

Pain d'épices socks
I had all the best intentions when I brought that Hedgerow pattern and Colinette Vincent's Apron to France, but let's get real for a moment, shall we? Was a sock that required a pattern really the most appropriate choice? The second I boarded than plane and was seated amongst High School French Class Traveling With Loud Ipods and Multiple Decks of Uno Cards with room enough for Anxious Sneezing Hypochondriac Lady With Personal Space Issues to be seated right next to me, I knew that I was going to require a. a lot of those adorable little $5.00 gin bottles and b. low cognitive load I'm-not-really here-right-now-am-I knitting. So I pulled out a lil project that I had started right before Christmas and hunkered down.
Pain d'épices socks
These socks were the perfect knockaround pals for me on my trip. So easy to whip out for just a few moments of restorative knitting at various points in the day. I even made a new knitting friend because of them--one of my colleagues on the trip saw me bring them out to work on and exclaimed "
Oh my God, you're a knitter!", which of course she was, too. So we had immediate rapport, kind of like when celebrities meet and instantly have something to talk about (i.e. paparazzi, getting hosed by your manager, best plastic surgeons in Poland) except for we gabbed non stop about all the usual issues. I even turned her on to Ravelry. (Evelyn, I'm waiting. You've had enough time to think of a cool handle, now come on!) It was fabulous. Knitters: we are legion.
Pain d'épices socks
I am calling them the pain d'épices socks, although gingerbread and pain d'épices are not exact equivalents, they merely belong to the same semantic field. But I'm saying that they are close enough. The yarn has a nice striping effect and because we're talking Socks that Rock we're talking springy sproingy.
Pain d'épices socks
The Specs
Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight Gingerbread Dude
Pattern: Wendy's Toe-Up
Needles: Hiyahiya 1.5 Magic Loop
What I did in France
Now I didn't actually eat any pain d'épices which seems to be more of an Alsatian treat and not necessarily ultra-common in the South of France, but Lord knows I did frequent the above-pictured
boulangerie-pâtisserie on a daily basis and had my fill of pain au raisin, which is basically my idea of sex in food form.

The colors in the above socks are truly fantastic (especially against our horrid green outdoor carpeting!) but aren't exactly seasonally appropriate, so naturally my thoughts are turning to the lovely shades of green that are threatening to make an appearance any day now. Luckily Wendee of Hazelknits did a recent shop update and solved my problems.
Hazelknits duo
Above you see Hazelknits Artisan Sock in Euphorbia and Shady Verdant, both stunners that are fitting the Project Spectrum Earth bill as well as my desire to knit something in every shade of green imaginable.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A (S)cowl To Keep Me Warm

Malabrigo Worsted, one skein of 'indigo', two strands held together
I am nothing if not a bandwagon knitter. That Ravelry 'friend activity' button gets perhaps the most use of all the fun features, next of course to the 'Needlework on the Net' forum, which is just basically one giant train wreck after another ("Magknits is gone! Conspiracy Theory at 11!"). Yes, I am constantly in junior high lunchroom mode looking to see what everyone else is doing, and then doubting my own projects, and casting on for whatever my pals are working on. It's sad, but it's working for me, as it's brought me to the newest craze sweeping the knitting nation: the cowl!
Dolores Park Cowl
Pattern: The Dolores Park Cowl
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Indigo, one skein, two strands held together.
Needles: Size 13 (that's what I'm talkin' about...)
Cast on and finished in less than one day. I am doing my best to give La Frick a run for her money!
Dolores Park Cowl
Dolores Park Cowl
I believe spring time is the perfect time of year to be sporting such a garment. The mornings are chilly and I must say that I have totally internalized the whole old world fear of having one's neck get cold in a 'courant d'air' or draft. So this baby is just perfect for me. And having Malabrigo around one's neck is just a little slice of heaven for this knitter! And the almost 13 year old wearing the (s)cowl agrees...
La Cure Gourmande in Aigues-Mortes
The above pictures were taken in a special little sweet shop called La Cure Gourmande in Aigues-Mortes, in the South of France. We were able to visit the salt planes where most of the sea salt is harvested in France and see the Camargue region, perched between Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence, a place that is known for its wild horses and herons. You can imagine that this store was complete sensory overload as it unabashedly yellow and orange and featured giant bins of every type of artisanal biscuit and cookie as well as chocolate covered olives (!?). Hard to believe that it was less than a week ago. *sigh*

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Things that happened while I was gone...

Lucky Duck
1. The new REM album came out. Wowza!
2. La Frick organized a killer* fundraiser for Ravelry. Go participate now, because hey, it's Julie Frick, y'all, and she has the best ideas.
3. The Y-Knit podcast #4 episode was released, and in-flight somewhere over Newfoundland I heard my new favorite word: Ravtard. It describes us all.
4. I won the Flint Knits Monkey naming contest on a technicality. FYI: when entering a naming contest, go for vaginal synonyms and you'll probably win. To wit: Snatch!
5. Jenny i.e. the Woully Boully sent me some of her rad* sock yarn (color: Something Blue), all because I guessed her ring size a while back. She even remembered that I was a Koigu fan and used a special Koigu-like base yarn and wound it into two skeins. What a doll...but Jenny, your yarn blows doors* off of Koigu!
6. Nora sent me a scarf (see above). It is stupendous as per her can I be this lucky?
7. I inexplicably received the above button in the mail from Thanks!

French student posters
I have lots o' pics to show from France, but I will leave you with two very emblematic sets of images. Above you see a series of posters that were splashed all over the college campus in Montpellier that I was visiting. Students in France are incredibly politicized, many belong to unions and participate in the political process regarding policies that effect them in a way that they most certainly do not in our country. You know, because text messaging and Facebook are really demanding and take up a lot of time...And below, you have some hilarious retro signs from a café in Le Grau du Roi, a seaside town that is sort of like a French version of Ocean City, MD. except not as honky-tonkish. They remind me of that dancing candy and popcorn cartoon that used to play in movie theaters to advertise the snack bar. Next up: trans-Atlantic knitting content!
Le Grau-du-Roi

*80s speak, because I am desperately clinging to my adolescence