Friday, August 29, 2008

Noro Face-Off

Ziggy socks (Summer Knitty 08) in Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn--95.
The jury is in, and things aren't looking so great right now for the Noro Kureyon (pronounced 'crayon'. My rule of thumb is that with Japanese words, just say it really fast and you'll probably get it right). I gave it a shot with my half-hearted attempt at the Ziggy socks, and I have to say that the experience, while it lasted, was not pleasurable. As I have stated before, I truly now know what it feels like to knit with lichen. The yarn is weirdly oily and scratchy at the same time. And splitty. And rough in a way that makes me not care that it will supposedly soften in the wash. Bottom line: the hand is a horror show. But the colors, the colors...sigh.

Toe-Up socks in Nor Silk Garden Sock Yarn
Enter the new upstart Noro that will definitely soon become the show stealer, Silk Garden Sock Yarn. I must say that for two yarns that should by all rights be so similar, these two siblings are night and day. The Silk Garden feels silky and soft and just somehow less irritating. And while the color choices are nowhere near as numerous, I'll gladly trade the glitzy colors of the Kureyon for the dependability of the Silk Garden.

Toe-Up socks in Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn
And if you can believe it, I can back up all my bluster with a FO!

The Specs:
Pattern: Toe-Up Socks by Cynthia Spencer
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn, color #252
Needles: HiyaHiya 1.5 circs

Toe-Up socks in Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn
These socks were the perfect back to school mindless knit stress reducers for me. I worked on them off and on during the last few weeks, sneaking in a row here and there and finished them last night watching Obama's speech--Yes, I did.

Nutkins in Jitterbug 'Wasabi Squeeze'
I realize that my M.O. for the next month or so is going to be finishing projects that were started with so much élan during the spring and summer but somehow ended up in the holding tank. Next up for me will be the Lil Nutkins. This is a fabulous pattern that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a Monkey, Spring Forward type of affair.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Please don't forget about me: the Back to School Edition

Kitten Man with Clotilde
As you can see, Clotilde is kind of big deal around these parts...ahem.

Why must the happy days of summer come to an end and be replaced with a feeling of dread? Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn

This fall on those crisp afternoons when you are sipping hot apple cider as you leaf through your latest issue of Interweave Knits and are spending your evenings hobnobbing with the usual suspects on Flickr and your favorite blogs, remember that you used to have a friend, the A.D.D. Knitter, and she used to have all the time in the world for knitting but now forces have conspired against her and she is being ground to a paste to an ivory tower dungeon where evil trolls are bludgeoning the life out of her with academic initiatives and verb conjugations. People this sad ass knitter is about to get kicked six ways to Sunday and it won't be letting up until, say, December 23. Say a novena for me.
Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn
Don't you love those people who act as if they are the only busy ones? Yup, that's me. Seriously, if you suddenly notice that my ever-so-meaningful comments such as "Great job!", "I love it!" and "I hate mohair, too!" are missing from your blogs, please know that it's not because I don't adore you all. I'm just trying to keep my job. Which I truly love, incidentally, it's just that like most people with arrested development (toddlers & permanent adolescents), I don't do well with transitions.
Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn Sock

Oh well, at least I have my new fave sock yarn (pictured above) to console me. Have you tried the Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn yet? I'm almost done with my first pair of socks and I am loving it. So sometime in November I'm sure I'll have something to show for myself...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Celebrity Cameo Appearance

Clotilde: un hibou chouette!
Carefree summer days seem to be fading into the background as other concerns like the upcoming semester (ack!), tween back-to-school Abercrombie demands and commuter-related gas pump trauma come to the fore. But happily it's not all long faces around here. How could it be when a. I have this owlish pal to keep me company and b. I met the mighty Ashley for some serious, serious fun in what I am calling "The Mac Daddy of All Knitblogger Meet-ups"™?
Ashley made a celebrity cameo appearance in State College several days ago long enough for us to have a nice meal and some ice cream at the legendary Penn State Creamery. Now I know every Big Ten campus has a creamery and swears it's the best, but the Penn State Creamery is something special. Peachy Paterno cones galore! Utz Carolina-Style BBQ Potato Chips! We had such a great time together. You know those people with whom you are just certain you'd really hit it off with, if only you could meet? That's who Ashley was for me. And look what she made me, a très adorable lil owl named Clotilde. Quite a spunky little gal.
The Curmudgeon has a surprising soft spot for little friends of this nature and already asked if he could take her to work and put her on his desk. Now while I am totally down with a guy who is willing to display stuffed animals in his office and subject himself to the potential scorn and derision of his colleagues and students, the answer was a resounding "NO!". Clotilde stays with me, right where she belongs.
Purl Koigu Beret
I have managed to whip out a quick project before the onslaught of the semester grinds me into a paste. I saw a prototype for this hat several days ago at the Skein Attraction in NJ while visiting the in-laws. The pattern is based on the Ann Budd pattern and is similar to the Purl Koigu Beret, except this one is knit with the yarn doubled
Purl Koigu Beret
The Specs
Pattern: Koigu Beret from the Skein Attraction in Teaneck, NJ.
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, color 204, two skeins held together
Needles: size 4 (ribbing), size 6 (hat)
Purl Koigu Beret
As Kim remarked, the hat has a jaunty little attitude, especially when worn at the rakish angle pictured above. I have never been a beret person as I feel that they make the wearer look like either a euro-wannabe or a frump. But this hat has enough of a crazy-Meathead shape to it that I just might change my opinion.
Purl Koigu Beret
I've been in such a Socks That Rock/Jitterbug frame of mind lately that I'd forgotten all about the sock yarn that kicked off my love for sock knitting: Koigu. Really, why had I forsaken it? I mean, is there any softer sock yarn out there? Luckily I have more than a few skeins laying around, so don't be surprised if you see it making more than just a celebrity cameo appearance around this joint.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Paris je t'aime...

Such a cliche, I know...
Don't worry, I swear this is the last post that will have anything to do with my trip. As you can see I am milking it for all it's worth, because after today's FO and the fun pics from Gay Paree I got nuthin'. Nuthin'! (oh, except a supremely awesome mac daddy of all knitblogger meet ups on the horizon) But after that, nuthin'.

Like most knitters going on a transatlantic flight, I had high hopes for all that I would accomplish. Add on to that several train trips and a conference for God's sake, well you can well imagine that I assumed that I would be a one-woman knitting sweatshop. Let's just say that if Nike were relying on me to churn out their goods, well their business would be in the dumper. All I had to do was finish one sock by the last day of my stay in Paris to give to my pal Maxime, and do you think I was able to pull this off? No. The only thing lamer than pathetically presenting a pair of socks to someone is meekly handing over one and a half socks and saying "Ummmm these were supposed to be finished by now....". Tired and sad, that's me. But luckily Maxime is an ultra-cool gent, so he was quite gracious.

While this sock lacked the desirable quality of being done, it more than made up for it with the many little stamps in its passport. Like a good tourist, it went to the Eiffel Tower and marveled at how such an over-exposed structure can still have the power to enthrall and thrill. From so many different angles and distances, it changes and reveals another side of itself. My traveling companion was quite taken with it, so we went back several times, at different times of the day.Paris by night
We also went on a little jaunt outside Paris to the magisterial chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte. This 17th century chateau had the misfortune of having been confiscated from its owner, Nicolas Fouquet, by Louis XIV as it was just a little too fabulous for non-royalty. Oops! Our visit was timed so that we could stay into the evening, as when night falls, the chateau and gardens are lit up with thousands of flickering candles. I know it might sound tacky and fit for some type of princess /unicorn fantasy tale, but trust me, it was really effing cool.
Vaux-le-Vicomte at night
The Arrival
We had the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time for the last stage of the Tour de France and were able to experience the excitement of seeing the grand arrival on the Champs Elysées. This more than made up for the fact the my project for the accompanying tdf kal is once again, dead in the water. When will I learn that signing up for knitalongs is a death knell for any project I hope to accomplish?
Garden at the Paris Mosque
One of our last stops was at one of my favorite spots in Paris: the courtyard of the Paris Mosque. It is as lovely and serene as any riad in Marrakech, indeed you feel transported as you sip glasses of mint tea and enjoy the lush greenery that surrounds you. I strongly recommend visiting this spot, and then taking a stroll in the Jardin des Plantes afterwards.
La Mosquée de Paris
Alas my sock was not finished until last night, so I will be sending on to my friend when he returns to New York. Perhaps not accomplishing a lot of knitting during a vacation is actually the hallmark of a good trip as it means that I actually got off my duff and did something. Or I'm just a really slow knitter.
Yarrow Ribbed Socks in STR 'In the Navy'
The Specs:
Pattern: Yarrow Ribbed Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: STR Lightweight in 'In the Navy'. I have to say that I'm not a fan of the Lightweight, the Mediumweight is so more my style. These felt like they took forever!
Needles: Size 1 Addi Turbo Magic Loop
Yarrow Ribbed Socks in STR 'In the Navy'
The pattern was somewhat of a downer by the time the second sock rolled around, i.e. didn't really hold my attention. But the heel is charming and the 'cat butt' toe is cute, but any further attempts will definitely be on larger needles with a heavier yarn. Next up for me is a delightful little project whose raw materials are pictured below, can you guess what it is? I ordered it as a kit from Eat.Sleep.Knit, who has lightening speed shipping. It arrived this morning just in time for the Ravelympics. Oh wait...
Claudia's Handpainted Kit

Monday, August 04, 2008

Paris: It's all about la bouffe*

Café at the Place Cambronne
In recapping our recent trip to Paris, where better to start than with the stomach? Because let's face it, this traveler is all about her next meal. And one of the great things I discovered on this trip was that the my traveling companion, i.e. the person who makes pasta by breaking up spaghetti and putting it into a small sauce pan of not-yet-boiling water and turns it on medium and stirs it a little bit and then refuses to admit the fundamental error of his ways when chided by telling me that I "...don't understand the physics of cooking", the person who had to be restrained from picking a hunk of tunafish off the sidewalk from a sandwich he'd been eating while walking at the Baltimore Inner Harbor, that person is now all about la bonne chère, or the joy of mealtime in France.
Pain au raisin et café
Although I am truly a croissant hag and will go to the ends of the earth for a good one, my first love in the French breakfast pastry department is the pain au raisin. Something about the fact that you can pull it apart in order to reveal its inner raisin and sugar goo really sends me. My traveling companion, being a virtuous Protestant that would not be out of place in Calvin's Geneva, "doesn't like sweets" and prefers protein for breakfast. Whatevah Mr. Principles, more for me, please!
Fruitstand in the Marais
Is there anything more pleasing than buying fruit at a fruitstand? Short of picking it yourself, there is no greater delight for this traveler. Let's just say that one day I maxed out so seriously on strawberries, as in a eating whole kilo of them by myself maxed out, that I woke up with a rash on my leg, thereby sending me to my truly favorite place to shop, la French pharmacie!

An afternoon pick-me-up...
As a true slacker in every sense of the word, I must say that I was made for the café lifestyle. We spent a lot of time in cafés and I do believe that the DRMC now finally gets it as well. One of the first things he noticed was how rare it is to see people walking around with to-go cups of coffee. I explained to him that although evil corporate burnt coffee that we've been hoodwinked into believing is good Starbucks do seem to be popping up everywhere in sight, there's nothing like spending a few moments in a café. We did this often.
Retro signs
I am a complete and total sucker for any retro-esque, hand-painted sign. If you hang one outside your establishment, no matter how sucky it might be, the likelihood of me entering it is very, very high.

Cheese Plate, i.e. Gary's new reason for living...
No discussion of French food would be complete without a mention of the crowning glory of every good meal, the cheese plate. Mr. "I don't eat sweets" was blown away by the cheese course and did himself in with superlatives each time we were served a plateau de fromages. If you ever saw "What About Bob?", just think of the scene where Bob is eating Faye's fried chicken ("mmmmmm......aaahhhhh....ooooooohhh") and you get the picture. Sure I love the cheese too, but if it's a choice between crème brûlée and cheese, well...
Dessert: Cheese Plate or Crème Brûlée?
Someone in this household has been bit by the traveling bug. I do believe that this person has fallen hard--he already had a love for Sartre (old skool, y'all), Foucault's panopticon, Rodin and Messiaen, but when I explained to him that the separation of church and state is one of the founding principles of the French Republic, well that just sealed the deal. We have a bona fide francophile on our hands now. And it will likely play in to my hands for a return visit. Air France is also helping out with this, as due to an airline error, my husband got bumped from his non-direct flight to JFK, and was not only put on a direct flight but was given a 300 euro voucher to fly on Air France again. Isn't that worth like $11,000 at this point? He claims that next time (next time!) he'd like to visit different regions of France and see the rest of the country. *le sigh*

Next post: a finished object!

*food, chow, grub, vittles, tender morsels