Monday, May 28, 2007

I Heart Three-Day Weekends!

Three day weekends are the greatest! If all weekends were 3-day weekends, our country would be a happier place. For now, I'll just cherish the rare holidays that create those blissful extended weekends. How to celebrate a long weekend of beautiful summer weather? Take that knitting and get outside! That, I did.

As you saw in my last post, I've been working on the lining for a wool hat. Since I can't wear wool directly against my skin but wanted to use the luscious Malabrigo yarn, I needed to put a layer of cotton between the hat and my skin. I used my favorite stretchy cotton yarn: Cascade Fixation. I'm not going to attach them so that I can wear the liner hat separate on the less chilly days. I'll be happy to see these when it gets cold again.

Yarn: Malabrigo (used only 1/2 skein)
Color: Col China
Pattern: Hats that Fit by Nancy Lindberg
Variations: Folded Ribbed Cuff and Square Shaping

Yarn: Cascade Yarns - Fixation
Color: 9385
Pattern: Hats that Fit by Nancy Lindberg
Variations: Ribbed Cuff and Square Shaping

I have taken my Fleece Artist yarn out of time-out and have started another sock with it. I finally settled on a pattern from Sensational Socks but only after multiple failed attempts to make a Monkey sock and a failed attempt at a Jaywalker sock. My gauge just didn't want to cooperate. So far so good with the Sensational Socks pattern.

Paul and I went to the park today to enjoy the sunshine and get some work done on our respective projects.

Me on my sock:

Paul on his computer stuff:

All in all, it was a splendid way to end a splendid weekend.

Arturo and Sam visited Boston!

We love showing our Minnesota friends around our new hometown. This past weekend was Arturo and Sam's second visit since we've lived here. They came to visit us but, more importantly, Sam came to interview for a job. If she accepts the job, they may be our new neighbors! We tried to woo them with some of the awesomeness that Boston has to offer.

We started their visit with a tasty Afghani dinner at Helmand Restaurant. I absolutely love their Kaddo (pumpkin).

The next day we went to Earthfest, where we sat on a blanket next to the Charles River and listened to KT Tunstall amongst the hundreds of other people doing just the same thing. What set us apart? My KIP*. Arturo is not used to such a sighting.

That evening we went to a comedy show at Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway. We all agreed that comedian Matt Kaplan was hilarious and we all want to be his friend.

Arturo was fighting a nasty attack of seasonal allergies during his visit. So, after talking about the benefits of Neti pots, we headed to Cambridge Naturals to get him one. There is really no way to make using any of these products a pretty thing. Take a look at the packaging in the photo above. Now take a look at the photograph on this page. See! There really is no flattering way to represent how these products are used. Since we didn't want Arturo to drown while experiencing his first Neti pot flush, I refrained from photographing him. It was dang funny for his audience and seemingly a bit traumatizing for him. It did seem to help him feel better. Maybe someday I will have the courage to try it.

Last but not least, while waiting for it to be time to go the airport we managed to squeeze in a little time for Sam to re-learn how to knit. I sent her on her way with a skein of yarn and a set of needles. Assuming that the security screener didn't take her needles away, she should be hooked by now.

*Note to my non-knitting readers - KIP means "knitting in public"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Naughty Monkey

After I finished weaving in all of my Baby Surprise ends, I was free to begin something using my Fleece Artist sock yarn. I've been so anxious to give it a test run ever since I took some home a few weeks ago. I exercised my self-control by waiting until I had finished my Baby Surprise but I wasn't going to wait a day longer.

Of course, not having tested it out yet didn't stop me from getting yet another skein of the oh-so-gorgeous-prettiest-yarn-I've-ever-seen skeins. This color is called Origin.

I have been hearing good things and seeing some really nice looking Monkey socks so I thought I would use my Mermaid colorway to make myself a pair. After going down two needle sizes (loose knitter here!), I was able to get gauge. About three inches in, I decided that I should give it a little try-on since it was looking pretty big. The pattern calls for 4 repeats which yields an 8 inch unstreched circumference. Hello saggy sock! I pinched off one of the repeats to see if that would still fit me and, supported by the consensus of the Sunday Circles group, decided to rip it out and start over sizing down the pattern to 3 repeats.

Here is the short version of the painful second half of this story: Tink first sock. Start over. Looking good. 3 inches done. Wait...This seems a little small. Try it on again. GRRR!!! It barely fits over my heel. Rip again. Curse the Monkey pattern and my in-between sized measurements.

This is a photo taken before the second round of ripping.

Even with all the pain, that is still some nice looking yarn!

After all that monkeying with Monkey, I think I am going to let it rest and make some Jaywalkers out of this yarn. I haven't gauged for that one yet. This may end up being a Sensational Sock instead. Time will tell. Until then, I plan to keep oooohhhhing and aaaahhhhing over my Fleece Artist.

Retail Therapy Round 2

After my Friday foray into pottery acquisition, I was left feeling not quite satisfied. Especially because I knew that Saturday and Sunday were "specials" days. Here is what I got during round 2 of the ceramic sale.

Four pairs

I made these last weekend. I am delayed in posting a photo of them due to the constant cloudiness. Earring are so immediately gratifying. You'll be seeing more of them coming from me soon. I've still got some beads leftover from the Minneapolis bead buying binge.

Rain, rain, rain = Knit, knit, knit

Thanks to Mother Nature, I had a guilt-free excuse (3 straight days of temps in the 40s and 50s and constant rain) to put on my newly finished purple sweater, pop in an audio book and knit, knit, knit this weekend. Needless to say, I was quite productive.

The Baby Surprise Sweater is done except for sewing on the buttons. It really is quite a fascinating process to knit, fold and seam that baby up (no pun intended!). The pattern was created by one impressive mind (Elizabeth Zimmerman). Here are some pictures to illustrate how the transformation from flat, misshapen blob to neatly folded sweater.
Flat - showing right-side of work

Flat - showing wrong side of work


Seamed and ready for buttons

If you look closely in some of those pictures you can see that the flat sweater takes up a large part of our dining table. This sweater is not so much a baby surprise sweater but more of a child surprise sweater. The difference in size is due to the thicker yarn and larger needles that I used. I enjoyed making this pattern as the construction of it remained somewhat of a mystery until I seamed it at the end. Finding out where the stripes were going to lay and how the colors were going to work together kept it interesting. My striping became more frequent at the end since I went right down to the end of my supply of three out of the four colors. Seriously. I had the tiniest amount of each yarn left. The yarn was donated by Circles Knitting Salon so I didn't have labels or know how much yardage I was dealing with. It was a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants project, which is what I hear would have made Elizabeth Zimmerman happy.

Since I finished the sweater up this weekend I was able to move on to something involving all of this Fleece Artist sock yarn I have been hoarding. I'm saving that for the next post.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Retail Therapy

After work yesterday I felt I deserved a little reward for making it through the week with my sanity intact. Lucky for me, the Harvard Ceramics Program was having their spring show and sale. I went straight from work to the sale and indulged in much oogling of the pottery.

I was looking primarily for myself but I also always have an eye out for something that fellow pottery lover and friend Jamie might be impressed by. I was walking around thinking "" I finally decided on something I wanted to use as a butter dish:

While waiting in line to pay I looked at the wall behind the register and saw FISH! Why did fish make me so excited? Because I have been thinking for weeks and weeks about what to get my dad for his birthday (next weekend). He is one of those people who doesn't need or want much and what he does need or want, he goes out and buys. That leaves potential gift-givers like me at a loss for gift ideas. I want his gift to be something that he would enjoy or have a use for. I have knitted him gifts in the past but have pretty much exhausted that avenue for the time being. Luckily he does have one theme/collection that has been growing over the years.....drum roll please.....FISH!

Those were some pretty dang cool looking fish staring at me from behind the register. Each of the fish was totally different from the others but all of them had these sort of grumpy/harried/worn down faces and expressions that I totally loved. I chose one that I thought my dad would like just in time for it to be my turn at the register. Luck was definitely on my side.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to package and ship it from Boston to Minneapolis without breaking it!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Such a freak!

Tchazo is such an excitable dog (or one could say he has a love for life). Anyone who has met him can vouch for me on that fact. I noticed today that he has a bonus freaky feature that reminds me of a weight lifter. When he gets all pumped up, the veins in his ears get all portrudey. I'm not kidding! Take a look:

How does your garden grow?

My garden is planted! Paul and I got the last of it in the ground today. And, what is even better is that Paul ventured into the basement and figured out how to turn the water on so I can use the outside water spout. No more hauling water from the apartment to keep the plants alive! Let me give you a tour of the garden in it's infancy.

Potted Herbs - Basil, Rosemary, Dill, Tarragon, Mint and Mint

Last year I had a potted mint plant and my neighbor, who used the garden space I have now inherited, decided that it needed to be in his soil instead of in my pot. He took it upon himself to perform the unauthorized transplant. What that meant for me this year was an unbelievable underground maze of mint tubers and sprouts throughout both sides of the garden space. I wanted to have a potted mint plant again so I kept a very small part of what I dug out of the garden and stuck them in pots.

Apparently another remnant of the garden from last year: potato.

Paul was turning the soil so we could plant the new stuff today and he came upon two potatoes deep in the soil that had sprouted. We stuck them back in and watered them. Does anyone know if these will grow more potatoes?

The current superstar of the garden: spinach.
There are potentially critters or bugs that have found our garden space. So far they have limited their consumption to one of the 6 spinach plants we have. This one is doing the best of the 6 plants. We'll be all set if Popeye wants to join the Veggie Dinner Club.

Garden View - Back End - Kohlrabi, Broccoli, Spinach and Beans (not sprouted yet)

Garden View - Front End - Beets (not sprouted yet), Tomatoes, Lettuce

I'm bathing in Fleece Artist.

That's how rich I am. OK, not really. But I did indulge in the rare chance to grab up some of this truly beautiful yarn. Take a look. Just be careful not to drool on your computer.

These are three skeins of sock yarn and one mix of yarn and roving for thrummed socks.

This one is my favorite. It is called Cosmic Dawn.

I didn't buy these all at once. I tried to control myself. I participated in the pre-order from Circles which is where the thrummed kit came from. When I went to pick up my pre-order (and start my Baby Surprise Sweater), I grabbed a skein of sock yarn that had come in with the pre-order yarn. Then, I thought obsessively for a week about the beautiful colors and how they might knit up into socks and man, those colors are amazing, and then I looked around at some other stores to see if I could find any other comparably amazing sock yarns and didn't see any that came close and then, well, since I wanted to go back to keep work on this:

Baby Surprise Sweater (in progress)

I might as well grab a skein or two more of the sock yarn. That, my friends, is how I came to be bathing in Fleece Artist. Come on in, the water is fine.

Veggie Dinner with a side of Cheap Ass

Weekends are glorious, yes they are. This weekend started with our turn as hosts of the Veggie Dinner Club. The Veggie Dinner Club consists of these wonderful folks:

Sylvie, Miriam, Me, Paul, Ann and Lee

And from the other side of the room: Paul, Ann, Lee, Beth, Sylvie and Miriam

Each of the households takes a turn cooking a fabulous vegetarian feast for the group. We rotate the duty and meet once a month to partake and imbibe. When Beth moved to town she brought this tradition with her from Chicago and set up shop. Thanks to her we have gotten to know all of these fabulous people.

After our dinner of Tropical Gazpacho and Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos, we proceeded to the Cheap Ass portion of the evening in which we were Bitin' Off Hedz. I, the pretty, pretty princess, did not win. That honor went to the Stegosaurus. Although, the Homie and the Drunken Santa held their own.

It was a fantastic Friday evening.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Did you go to a wedding?

To set the scene: today was the day I broke out the summer shoes and clothes for work. One of my students asks me, seemingly out of the blue, this morning if I went to a wedding. "Why do you ask that?", I said to her. "Cause you got your toenails painted!", she said. Duh! Of course if your toenails get painted you have to go to a wedding. Anyone planning on getting married this weekend? My toenails are painted and ready to attend.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Finished! What next?

Top Down Raglan Sweater - The Knitting Fool
Countess Yarn by Classic Elite (10 skeins)

I finally finished the purple sweater. And, it is just in time for it to be 80 degrees tomorrow! I am happy with it, though. This marks my first garment that fits properly. I really enjoyed the simplicity of this pattern and the fact that there was NO SEAMING!! I want to do another top down raglan but with a different type of collar. This collar is a bit more snug than I like it to be.

The finishing work on the sweater overlapped a bit with the start of my next projects. I have already started a Baby Surprise Sweater (pattern by Elizabeth Zimmerman) as part of the Circles charity workshop. I also began knitting a hat to go inside of a hat...more details and pictures of that later.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Neverending Sleeve

I've been holding off on posting because I wanted to finish the purple sweater and post a whole bunch of finished projects. But the sweater just keeps going on and on and on. Not the whole sweater so much as the last sleeve. I am a few inches away so it won't be long until I can post that too. In the meantime, I have finished a few things.

Before felting...
After felting...
Felted (Fulled) Mittens - Nancy Lindberg pattern
Brown Sheep - Nature Spun Yarn

Felted Bowl
Araucania - Nature Wool Chunky
Doesn't this bowl needs some beads on it?! Some springy spans of beads...or maybe loopy strands...or maybe sporadically placed beads here and there. I guess this doesn't qualify as completely finished yet. I am using it until I can decide what to do with the beads. I had originally planned to do some needle felting on the sides but that idea has fallen away for the moment.

Maybe the reason I have beads on the brain is because I went bead shopping in Minneapolis and got all of these fantastic beads. I had also placed a big order from Fire Mountain Gems before I left on the trip. The box was waiting when I got home. If only I had more time in the day...

There is always something on my to-do list that doesn't get done. Speaking of which, if you hear me coming a mile away, it is because one of the things on my to-do list (fix hole in muffler) has been being continually sacrificed for the sake of all of the other to-do list items.

One of the things on my to-do list includes getting yarn and deciding on a pattern for Sockapalooza 4. The pairing has been assigned and I found out that my recipient is a somewhat big-footed male....I better get started! I am thinking of hand-dyed yarn in something grey, blue, and brown. I'm looking forward to scouring a few yarn stores this weekend to see if I can find yarn that matches the vision in my mind.

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