Thursday, February 28, 2008

Move over, knitting...

I can't fully explain how I did it, and one day anthropologists will study my jiggery-pokery and make fascinating conclusions. My evil powers of manipulation and general skullduggery have somehow allowed me to work my magic and convince the other adult in this household that this summer we will spend 10 days in Paris. Those that know this other adult will immediately comprehend the masterstroke that this event represents, especially given that he spends his waking hours fretting about the imminent financial collapse of our nation and thus reusing kleenexes in order to maximize our chances of not perishing in Thunderdome. To break it down in terms we can all understand, this would be like getting Jared to knit with fun fur, or
Pam to suddenly quit sewing and start buying all her clothes from Merry-Go-Round, or Ashley to callously dump her beloved Bailey by the side of the road. You get the picture. This is, as Christian would say, kind of a big deal. So knitting has now taken a back seat to my new best friend, Have you seen this site? I am an expert because I've spent about 17 of the last 36 hours maniacally reading hotel reviews. It's like Ravelry for fyi: I'm going to be insufferable for the next five months. You've been warned. [N.B. the above pic was taken by my brother, who went to Paris with his partner last fall, and since he went, I have to go, because I am locked in a caged death match of one-upmanship for life]. What are your summer travel plans?
A Better Bucket
But there has been SOME knitting. I have, in fact, completed a hat. I know that I wasn't technically supposed to start this project before the Malabrigo March Madness A Better Bucket kal on Ravelry, but I got a little over zealous.
A Better Bucket
The Specs:
Pattern: A Better Bucket by Amy Swenson
Yarn: Malabrigo worsted in Azul Lindo
Needles: addi size 7
Mods: none at all
A Better Bucket
This is the ultimate Malabrigo pattern. The color way azul lindo was just a little too variegated to make it a good choice for a Koolhaas (not that I need to make a fourth one, however it remains my new gold standard), but it is perfect for this pattern. This pattern also allowed me to do my first provisional cast-on ever, and I love it. What took me so long? The brim is folded under and then attached by knitting it together with the working edge, thereby making the brim extra awesome.
To be a good kal participant, I'll be making about fifteen more of these, in the colors below:
Malabrigo Worsted: Shocking Pink

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cupcakes, Juliet, and a Podcast that doesn't suck

Dozen in Pittsburgh
The above shot is brought to you by the newest craze sweeping the nation (no, not Pinkberry, but I would murder for one of those, I tell you): the High-End Cupcake
. The High-End Cupcake is the tanning booth of today--if you have some extra cash or a connection to a venture capitalist, I strongly recommend you get in on this business because it's a winner. Babs and I went to Pittsburgh on Thursday and stopped by Dozen, a purveyor of these sweet delights. Of course we each bought a small box-worth, you know, for the kids.

On our trip we also had the enjoyment of bumping into Leslie and Keana at a knit shop--but not until later that evening when I saw Leslie's picture of Keana on Flickr did I realize that we had actually seen them at the shop and spoken to them. Ha! What a small world. Both are even lovelier in person, the baby is adorable, and sort-of meeting them was a pleasure.
I sorted through and prioritized the tranny mess that is my WIP situation (can you tell I'm a Christian of Project Runway fan?) and decided that finishing Juliet was the right thing to do. I appreciate all of you who suggested that I keep the sweater for myself and really teach the little miss a lesson. However I must politely refuse this suggestion, not out of a moral or ethical obligation, mind you, but rather because this garment is being knit in the x-small size and yours truly hasn't managed to swing that since maybe 1982 for about 10 minutes. Yeah--I'm a husky jeans gal...(Note cupcakes above. You know, for the kids).
Juliet in Lamb's Pride Bulky
The clouds parted long enough for Tween Thing to be nice to me again to make working on Juliet seem possible. The pattern is genius and once you get the lace repeat down it's smooth sailing. I'm not sure how long last the entente with its recipient will last, but I'm going with it for the moment.
Juliet in Lamb's Pride Bulky
The Specs
Pattern: Juliet
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky in Ocean Waves, 3.75 skeins
Size: XS
Juliet in Lamb's Pride Bulky
Now we have a dilemma on our hands because Peeper-Lou is adamant that she be next in line for the Juliet treatment--I even bought her the Cascade 109 pictured below for that purpose. But Tween Thing received Juliet as compensation for her sister's Drive -Thru, so making another Juliet would create an imbalance. Gah! Stop the world, I want to get off...
Cascade 109
I would like to give a mega shout-out to my boy Wondermike and his pal Hizknits who are creative duo behind the new knitting podcast Y Knit. If you haven't heard it yet, I strongly urge you to give it a listen. It is smart, intelligent and funny--and I am someone who HATES knitting podcasts. This is the first one I've ever listened to that didn't annoy the hell out of me with stupid banter, dopey inside jokes and irritating 'you had to be there' laughter. Yes I have strong feelings on the matter. Just check them out, they don't suck.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

WIP Round-Up: Cuz that's all I got...

There is a bit of a lull in the FO assembly line chez A.D.D.--WIPS are all I got right now as responsibilities such as work/kids/marriage/ are seriously cutting into my all-about-me knitting time. Botheration! However all my WIPS are in the rather odd position of presenting at once compelling reasons to work on them and justifications for never looking at them again. Let's look at the evidence...
test day
1. Monkey socks: You all were so nice, so kind to patiently suggest sock patterns to get me back in the saddle. The Monkey pattern was the overall winner, so I bit the bullet and cast on. I am doing them in STR Sunstone, a color that is making me insanely happy. Pros: Socks are portable, I can work on them when my students are taking tests--you know, just to rub it in that even though they have shiny hair and taut waistlines, I never have to take another test again in my entire life--mwaahahahahhah! Cons: They're socks and as such are still feeling...pointless. But I will soldier on, I promise. The love is most likely right around the corner, right?
Juliet--almost done...
2. Juliet: Those Zephyr gals have yet to put out a pattern that doesn't inspire. Juliet is no an exception, there are so many on Ravelry that prove the versatility of the pattern. Tween Thing chose the pattern and the yarn--Brown Sheep Bulky, a yarn that doesn't annoy me. Pros: It's almost done! I only have about three more lace repeats to finish, but feel the need to put it down every time the recipient and I have a squabble...segue to the Cons: As parents I know we're supposed to be more mature blah blah blah, but are we contractually obligated to continue knitting for the kid when said kid proclaims that you are 'the worst mother ever'? Please advise.
Falling Leaves Shawl in Valley Yarn 'Lenox'
3. Falling Leaves Shawl: This project falls under the 'tout beau tout nouveau' category as I just began it this morning for My Favorite Hat Model's (tm) 40th birthday. Pros: Valley Yarns Lenox is a dream team combo of alpaca, merino and cashmere and is so, so soft. And cheap. For the record I feel that all Valley Yarns blow doors off of Knitpicks. Yeah, I went there. The pattern is beyond easy, and size 9 needles? I am so there. Cons: It's red, and red is hard to photograph for the ol' blog. But letting blog issues effect your knitting choices just seems semi-lame to me.
BSJ--just begun...
4. BSJ: I have been wanting to this EZ pattern for a while now, and the planets have converged in such a way as to make it seem possible right now. Pros: Rowan Felted Tweed is a yarn I have wanted to use forever, and I have the perfect unisex color combo right now in my stash. Cons: I am not so good at the 'just press on and trust me' part of the directions. And does knitting a baby sweater in scratchy tweed seem like a passive aggressive thing of me to do? Be truthful.

So there you have it. Hormones dictate so much around this joint. Maybe Tween Thing's lovely attitude will abate and there will be a window of opportunity to finish Juliet while it will still fit her. In the mean time the only other thing I got is a link to the most exciting single I have heard in a very long time...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snow Day (!?)

Snow Day
Apparently whenever it snows now the local school district here in Nascar, PA. calls for a snow day. Stop everything! It's winter and it's snowing! This means that the junior set is at home, and I am forced to be large and in charge, ruling the roost by preventing tri-hourly raids of the snack cupboard and non-stop Nickelodeon. And all this hullabaloo on the day I don' t teach. Harumph! The native Minnesotan in me has an innate sense of winter weather superiority & scoffs at such readiness to cancel school. "12 degrees? That not really that's 40 below in International Falls". Yes, it's winter. There is snow. Can't we all just deal, please? I include a picture of the offending weather above for
my peeps who aren't experiencing the joy of white flakes covering their town.

If the above irritating native Minnesotan behavior weren't tiresome enough for you, here's another aggravating habit we have: loving music from Minneapolis with a cult-like devotion. If you are so inclined and are looking for some snow day music, might I suggest the Replacements' 'Skyway' and Trip Shakespeare's 'Snow Day'? And of course Prince's mighty 'Sometimes it Snows in April'! (Thanks, Nicole!)
Target Wave mittens
I can't complain too much--today's snow day meant that Tween Thing was available for a mitten fashion shoot. These are the Target Wave mittens by designer Norah Gaughan. After seeing a good friend's pair, I had to make them as well. I told you I was a copy cat knitter!
Target Wave mittens
These were an interesting mitten to make as the construction is unusual. The hand part is knit flat and then seamed. I chose to do the thumb target in the round because it just seemed much easier. I love how they came out, the pattern is striking, sassy and stylish--all three qualities that today's modern knitter demands...
Target Wave mittens
The Specs
Pattern: Target Wave Mittens (Interweave Knits Fall 06 and Knitting Nature)
Yarn: Malabrigo worsted in 'Shocking Pink' and 'Water Green'

Needles: Size 6 and Size 8 addi turbos

This is my third straight project with the Malabrigo 'Water Green' and I still have a ton left. Is this some seriously amazing yardage or what? It's like the magic porridge pot of yarns...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Careening off in my own idiosyncratic direction...

EZ-Very Warm Hat
Recently there have been complaints 'round these parts that my hats 'just aren't warm enough'. It would appear that a certain persnickety individual is dissatisfied with the thermal retention capabilities of the run-of-the-mill hand knit hat. To that person I feel like saying 'Hey, you could have married that crazy broad you were dating before you met me who claimed to not be able to hear vowels and let her son throw up in a glass at a restaurant and told you to leave it and that the waitress should clean it up because that's her job', but I hold my tongue, and give him what is known in my family as the arched eyebrows of disdain. My brother is the expert.
EZ-Very Warm Hat
Marital quibbles aside, his remonstrations did get me thinking that a hat with a liner would be nice after all. So after some admiration of Tiennie's masterstroke, I figured that I would have a go at EZ's Very Warm Hat from The Opinionated Knitter. Besides it gave me the opportunity to delve into the realm of the newest hot color combo, I'm calling it 'redoise' (red and turquoise), which is totally the new chocqua, incidentally. I am not the first knitter to put these two together, as evidenced by this.
EZ-Very Warm Hat
Just when you think you've been entertained to the limit by Elizabeth Zimmermann's unique prose, you come across a line in her directions that just makes you so very, very happy. At the end of the directions for the Very Warm Hat, you are told to "follow these directions for your first hat; then go careening off in your own idiosyncratic direction for all subsequent hats." Wow. Did she have our numbers or what?
EZ-Very Warm Hat
The Specs
Pattern: Very Warm Hat
Yarn: Malabrigo worsted in 'American Beauty' and 'Water Green'
Needles: Size 8 addi turbo
Mods: None at all.

Knitting this hat was a pleasure, although my edge where I picked up the sts for the second hat is somewhat screwy. I am pleased with the outcome, as is the recipient, who will never be allowed to live down certain choices he made in the dating arena as far as I am concerned...

And can you believe that there is more Make My Day love coming my way? Thanks to Kim, Rachel, Janet, and Larissa, a group of knitters I admire to the utmost.

Monday, February 04, 2008

ISO: The (sock) Fire Within

Pictoral label created by Junior Stash Helper
This weekend Peeper-lou assisted me with some stash reorganization--it was high time that yarns be resorted and placed in clear plastic bins where I could easily get to them, rather perpetuate a situation whereby out of the blue I begin to fret on the drive home from work and wonder if I really actually know where that skein of sKNITches Bebop sock yarn in Baltic is, only to dash in the door, spend 20 some odd minutes rummaging around the third floor, only to finally put my hands on it, but not without significant torment and folderol. Above you see an example of the labeling system that my junior assistant devised. Get it? It's the bin with Cherry Tree Hill & Wollmeise, so there's a corresponding artistic rendering . Other bins are similarly labeled, like the 'Jo Sharp' bin has a picture of a guy named Joe holding a sharp needle (?). However this particular label tripped her up a bit as she misunderstood when I told her that Wollmeise meant 'wool tit' in German. Tee-hee-hee... The bird, not the body part, kid!

The mad fit of reorganization afforded me the opportunity to take a special look at the
Project Spectrum yarns--red, orange and pink. Below you see a sampling:
Project Spectrum: Fire
Top, left to right:
1. MadelineTosh Merino Sport 'Pop Rocks' 2. Malabrigo 'American Beauty' 3. Colinette 'Whirly Fig' 4. Koigu Merino Kersti Crepe '663'
5. Malabrigo 'Geranio' 6. Rowan Felted Tweed #7. Cherry Tree Hill Potluck 8. Rowan Kid Classic
9. Crytal Palace Merino 5 #108 10. Ella Rae Palermo #7 11. Socks that Rock 'RI Red' 12. Lorna's Laces 'Red Rover'
13. Artyarns Ultramerino 4 #142 14. Lorna's Laces 'Lucky Strike', 15. Hazleknits 'Sailor's Delight', 16. Malabrigo 'Shocking Pink'

I am really motivated to use PS for stash-busting purposes and hope to be able to knit up as much of these yarns as I can. The shades of orange and pink and deep crimson are inspiring to me and I tend to work well with this type of knitting limitation, sort of like the Oulipo writers who devised constraints for themselves like writing novels without the letter 'e' and poems that follow specific mathematical formulas. But I have realized that there is one aspect to Project Spectrum that is most untimely: my sock knitting enthusiasm is at an all-time low, some would even call it a nadir. This is a problem because most of the fire family yarns are for sock purposes. I want to feel the love again and just don't see how it's ever going to come back. Socks just feel really pointless to me right now, and I need to be reminded what is it about them that make them such a pleasure.

What sock pattern do you recommend in order to bring back that loving (sock) feeling? Help coax me off the sock knitting ledge and bring me back in to the fold.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Mutual Admiration Society

Can you believe that Shoeless Val has created a medal inspired by my 100% knit-from-stash, Drive-Thru experience? Behold:

Please feel bestow this award upon yourself & share in the knitting-from-stash triumph, if you are so inclined. Thanks Val, you made my day!

This brings me to another topic. Did any of you see the Frontline episode about kids growing up online? It made the point that the generation gap has never before been this wide as parents have no idea at all what Facebook is and how kids are using it, to give you one example. I am sure as bloggers we are more aware than most, but we can all admit that the web is full of peril. The Curmudgeon and I spend a lot of time being suspicious of the notion of an Internet community. His latest motto is that "The Internet is Taco Bell for the intellect". We are constantly fretting over the role of technology in the dumbing-down of our nation's youth--you know, amusing ourselves to death with our gadgets and supposed mastery of technological skill when all we're really doing is ripping songs off Limewire and all that. (Well, he does most of the expounding, I'm the one with the iPhone, remember? So I really don't have a leg to stand on there being a permanent adolescent and all, but I play along). We worry about our kids becoming more adept at conducting virtual relationships that flesh-and-blood ones. Tween Thing told me that pro-anorexia websites are all the rage with the girls at her school. Ugh. Let's face it, on the web at any given moment you are a click away from some really negative shit...

But then there are bright spots. How about all of these Make My Day awards going round? The spirit in which these posts are written makes you realize that we knitbloggers are involved in a mutual admiration society, and I mean that with no snark at all. We truly support and admire one another's creative endeavors, and it is an unexpected outcome of Internet life for me. Thanks to VĂ©ronique, James, Tiennie, Jodi, Weezalana, Peaknits and Courtney--you all make MY day. Have a look at my blogroll if you are looking for new reads--I truly read and love them all and can't choose just 10. Please don't think I'm a wiener for not specifying which ones!
Snowboarder's Hat from Kathy Kreation's pattern in Ligonier, PA.
Yesterday I whipped up an ear flap hat that heralds two firsts for me: making an i-cord and taking the time to finally learn to properly crochet an edge around something & having it not make the garment look worse. Can you believe it? I'm not a total wench after all...

The Specs:
Pattern: Everyone's Favorite Snowboarder's Hat
Yarn: 2 skeins Nashua Handknits Painted Forest (foliage) and .35 skein of Lamb's Pride Bulky (oregano)
Needles: Size 15
Snowboarder's Hat from Kathy Kreation's pattern in Ligonier, PA.
I got this pattern at Kathy's Kreations in Ligonier, a shop that I seem to be seeing a lot of recently. It was written by a shop employee and teacher, Tracy Earhart. This is a hat that I would never normally be attracted to, but given my renewed fondness for off-the-grid/hippy culture, I thought I'd give it a shot. And who can say no to size 15 needles?