Monday, December 31, 2007

Mega Man Paul

Paul rarely asks me to knit anything for him. So, after two years of his repeated requests for the same knitted item, I gave in. He was even willing to go shopping for the yarn, which proved his dedication to making this knitting dream a reality. We collaborated together to come up with this:

I present to you Paul's knitted Mega Man Helmet. For those not familiar with Mega Man, you can check out this Wikipedia link.

I used the Amelia Earhart Aviator Cap pattern as the basis for the hat and then added the point on the front and the contrasting peices on the ears and across the top. The yarn is Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Blue Boy and Spruce.

ETA 9/28/08
Aww! Thanks for all of the comments! I am glad you all are so psyched about this hat. I just posted instructions on how to make your very own geeky hat.

Little House in the Woods

Paul and I have made it a tradition to rent out a cabin in Vermont for a long weekend each winter. The cabin we rent is in the mountains of southern Vermont and is far enough from shopping, other people and the sounds of the city that it feels like a real retreat to go there. There is plenty of beautiful land surrounding us and the cabin is basic but comfortable. We look forward to the relaxing and refreshing nature of the trip while the dogs look forward to it for their own reasons.

Tchazo likes it because he just needs to go and stand by the door and he gets let out to run and play WITHOUT A LEASH! That is a total treat for an energetic city dog. Plus, sometimes we go out and throw things for him to chase after. Pure bliss.

He doesn't do much in the way of relaxing while we are there because it is just so much fun to play the inside/outside door game. "Can I go out again? How about now? Now?"

Jack looks forward to it too. Once we park the car, we don't get in it again until we are leaving. That means that the cabin is a place where Jack has constant company. Plus, he gets treats.

And there is carpeting for him to lay on.

What more could two pups want? We just got back from our trip and still have a few days of our vacation left. Glorious, glorious vacation time.

Sienna Cardigan

Pattern: Sienna Cardigan from Interweave Knits, Fall 2006
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted (5.5 skeins)
Color: Emerald (135)
Needles: Bamboo Circulars, Size 7
Variations: I changed the rolled cuffs to ribbed. To compensate for my different row gauge, I added an extra 3/4 repeat of the lace along the button band.

I love this yarn. I did a trial run of how my skin would react to it by making a hat first. It is the only wool that I have been able to wear directly against my skin without freaking out. It is so soft and the colors kept me happy the whole time I was knitting it. This is the first fitted sweater that I have made and I am so glad that it turned out. I have been known to have gauge issues so it is quite rewarding when all of the swatching, washing and calculating pays off!


Pattern: Fetching from Knitty
Yarn: Debbie Bliss - Cotton DK
Color: 13003 (Gray)
Needles: Birch DPNs in size 3

This is the third time I have knit this pattern. It is such a fun and quick project. In the past I used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and was much happier with the gauge and feel of it. I used Debbie Bliss Cotton DK for these and they turned out bigger and thicker than I would have liked.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Revealed

I believe all presents have been opened, so I can post some finished objects without spoiling the surprise. I didn't make as many gifts as usual this year but I did make a few.

As was posted earlier, my dad got felted boxes:

Jamie got a flourite and sterling silver wire wrapped necklace with sterling silver star spacers. This was a hard one to photograph.

My mom got a pearl and sterling silver necklace and earrings with a fancy, flowery clasp:

Washcloths were a big hit this year. I went on a knitting spree of two styles. The Ballband Washcloth

and the Mason-Dixon washcloth. These got bundled up with a bar of handmade lemongrass ginger soap (soap not made by me).

There were also felted soaps that found their new homes.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! I got some great knitting gifts: two GoKnit bags, a yarn store gift certificate and two skeins of sock yarn. Yay for gifts, giving AND receiving!

Roman Earflap Hat - Sort Of

My intent was to make the Roman Earflap Hat as it was written, but that wasn't how it ended up. I made the hat deeper and skipped the flaps. It is still a really warm and comfy hat. I love how the stitch pattern on the brim makes it so thick and warm. This yarn yielded a really crisp stitch definition and the semisolid color spread out nicely.

Pattern: Pepperknit - Roman Earflap Hat
Yarn: Sheep Shop Yarn Company - Sheep Number Three (3/4 of a skein)
Color: A098
Needles: Addi Turbos - size 2
Variations: Eliminated the earflaps, made the hat deeper


Besides getting and giving Christmas presents and going to a work Christmas party, the only Christmassy thing I have done this season was baking Christmas cookies. On Friday Becky came over and we spent our day off (!) making cookies and starting our sweater knit-along. We made Molasses cookies and Raspberry Butter cookies. Sooo tasty!

Later that day Beth came over for a quick visit and then Paul and I met Arturo and Sam for dinner. We are packing time in with our friends before everyone heads out of town for the holidays. It seems Paul and I are the only ones not travelling home for Christmas. We are looking forward to spending the time cooking some new recipes, playing with the dogs, talking to family on the phone and relaxing.

Best Husband Ever Award

The award goes to Paul. He made my birthday unbelievable special this year. How was it amazing? Let me count the ways:

I came home from work and was greeted with a beautiful flower bouquet and Paul who had taken a half day from work to prepare for my birthday evening.

He had already started cooking dinner. It involved multiple recipes and utilized multiple varieties of fresh herbs.

He made tortellini with a white wine, portabella, parsley cream sauce and asparagus sauteed with fresh ginger, soy sauce and cashews and a bruschetta with toasted french bread. Delicious.

For dessert was a Mississippi Mud Pie from Petsi Pies. It was so rich we each ate a sliver and were full.

Then, came presents. He was generous and thoughtful with his gifts. Some were useful, some were fun but there was one that was the most creative and most emotional for me. He made a book. Here are it's pages:

This was an especially meaningful gift. Our cat, Luna, got cancer and after she fought it off for nearly a year including a surgery to remove her tumors, we had to put her to sleep in February. She was a really great cat. Paul had her for 10 years. It was hard to lose her. We had only recently started discussing if we were ready to get another cat and Paul seemed less gung-ho about it then I was. I was willing to be as patient as need be since I would only want to get a pet we were both invested in having. What a great way to tell me he is ready to add a cat to our menagerie!

These guys aren't sure how they feel about sharing us with a cat. We are still trying to decide if a cat or a kitten is the way to go.

As if all that wasn't enough, Paul also planned things for the Saturday after my birthday. After making me breakfast on Saturday morning, he revealed the first part of the day's plans to me. Ice skating! We layered up and headed out for the Common. Once we got there, it seemed like an overpriced and crowded place to get our ice skating fix so we left to try another place Paul knew about. The second place was way better. It was less expensive, less crowded and they weren't blasting Christmas music.

While we were ice skating, I tried to convince him that we should watch The Cutting Edge together. The man has his limits, even on my birthday, so I received a sharp "NO WAY" in response to that suggestion. Still, I couldn't help myself from declaring "Toe pick!!" multiple times during our skating session.

After skating, we headed home to rest up and get changed into fancy clothes. Paul was big on not telling me any of the plans. I tried my best to not pester him to tell me. I think he liked the element of surprise. He told me in advance that the place we were going to go for dinner had a dress code that stated "jacket and tie are most comfortable". I knew I was in for a fancy pants dinner but I had no idea how fancy pants it would really be. I don't think it gets more fancy than the place he took me. I was a bit overwhelmed and nervous when we got there. It is the sort of place where it is easy it feel like you are going to screw up and make a fool of yourself. It is the sort of place where they have a maƮtre d' instead of a hostess. Where your food comes to the table covered and is revealed to you. Where you can't go to the bathroom without someone jumping to your assistance to move your chair, fold your napkin and open doors for you. It was the sort of place where the chef welcomes you with an Amuse Bouche. Also, it was the sort of place where you can easily spend a whole paycheck on one meal. There were bottles of wine on the wine list that cost $12,000!! I was thoroughly amazed, flattered and surprised that Paul felt the desire to spoil me to such an extent. It was a once in a lifetime experience, for sure. Oh yeah, the food was pretty good too :) I got to try some ingredients that were new to me. My entree was a burnt blood orange risotto with saffron threads and shaved truffle mushrooms. A decadent evening, it was.

I felt it would have been inappropriate to take pictures inside the restaurant, so all I photographed was the door on the outside. Even that was impressive.

So, now you agree? The Best Husband Ever Award was well earned.

Stationary Bike

A scene from the last week:

Paul referred to this as the bICEcycle.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Meaty, Cheesy, Melty Part 2

I had occasion to chat with my neighbor this evening. Given the chance, I totally had to ask about the banner. I asked her why she owns such a thing. Her response, "Oh. It's just something I have for what I do." I am not totally sure about what it is that she does and that seemed to be all she was going to share with me. However what she did with it tonight was shove it under her roommates car tires as we were trying to push his car out of the parking lot. It didn't really help the cause much.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Frazzled and Frizzles

It's crunch time. Paul and I had to scrap our plans to go to a comedy show on Friday night because of my recent realization that Christmas is reallyreallyreally close and I had yet to finish making some of the gifts. Not to mention, I need to account for shipping time to get most of these gifts to Minnesota on time. By skipping the show, I gained enough time to get the gifts made and by waking up early on Saturday, I was able to get them wrapped and packaged up for shipping before Abby arrived from New Hampshire. Luckily Paul was willing to lug it all to the post office for shipping while Abby and I went on with our day.

Part of the reason Abby came to my neck of the woods was the Harvard Ceramic sale. I have never left the sale empty handed and this time was no exception. Due to the crazy weather on Thursday and the crazy weather today (Sunday), people who would have normally gone on other days were all there when we went on Saturday. It was a mad house but still well worth elbowing past people. I got a few things for me and finished the last of my Christmas shopping. Abby was equally tempted into buying for people on her Christmas list and for herself. We practiced fairness in the form of "one for them, one for me, one for them, one for me." OK, maybe I was more like "one for them, two for me" but who's counting.

After the sale, we headed back to my house so that Abby could learn how to make felted soaps. She has a knack for it. By the end of the day she had beautifully wrapped and felted all 7 bars of soap that she brought with her.

After Abby headed home to get all dolled up for a fancy, schmancy Christmas party, Paul and I headed over to Sylvie and Miriam's for our Veggie Dinner Club. The meal was delicious. My favorite dish was the roasted root vegetables with turnip frizzles. Although, the vegan chocolate cake with raspberry sauce was also a top competitor. When talking last night we realized that our group is almost upon it's one year anniversary. I have really enjoyed being a part of it and have eaten well this past year. Big thanks to Beth for creating the club.

I think I remembered to photograph everything before sending it away yesterday so after Christmas I can post what I have been working on for the last month or so. Today will be spent knitting for ME! I am nearly done with my Roman Earflap Hat and have a small amount left to finish on my Sienna Cardigan so hopefully I can get those both done today. It is the perfect day to be a shut-in. The weather here is N-A-S-T-Y. It snowed all last night and when I took the dogs for a walk this morning, the snow had turned to sleet (small ice balls...why the weather people aren't calling them hail, I am not sure) and it was so windy that the sleet was hitting me in the face with significant gusto. I am loving the fact that I have no good reason at all to go back outside today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Black Sheep Weekend

I owe knitting a debt of gratitude. It has been the motivation for many trips for me. Most recently, Becky and I went to Western Massachusetts. Our primary purpose was to make a pilgrimage to the knitting mecca that is Webs. My mother in-law gave me a gift certificate last year and I have yet to spend it. I was holding out for a weekend like this one.

Becky and I each took the day off of work on Friday to make an overnight trip of it. Our first stop was for lunch at what became somewhat of a theme for the weekend, a place called The Black Sheep.

The Black Sheep is a deli, bakery, coffee shop and restaurant. We had really tasty sandwiches and each got a dessert to-go so that we could have something sweet to refresh us after our yarn shopping extravaganza.

Becky's treat was a reindeer cupcake. She showed it no mercy. My cream cheese brownie took three sittings to polish off and for anyone who knows my affinity for brownies, that speaks to the richness of the brownie.

I didn't take any pictures in Webs. I couldn't hold still long enough to take photos. I couldn't waste any precious moments on photo taking. I had to be all gather all of my energy in order to make just the right selections from all the worthy choices. There is a serious amount of yarn to be had in that store and some amazing deals on good yarn. I knew I was shopping with someone else's money (Thanks Joanne!!) but I still wanted to spend it wisely. Below you can behold a photo of the pyramid of yarn I acquired that day.

Another part of what is great about Webs is the amount of knitted samples they have available to touch and try on. One of the samples appealed to Becky and I so we both bought the pattern and yarn and are planning on doing a knitalong for it. Check it out. It is called the Tanglewood Cascading Cardigan. In keeping with the Black Sheep theme of the weekend, I purchased black yarn for the sweater. I normally don't knit with black yarn but I think I will wear this sweater to work and black would be the best color for that purpose.

We headed back to Amherst for dinner at Tabellas. It was a tapas style restaurant with a focus on local ingredients. I had the best sweet potato soup that I have ever tasted. Dinner was satisfying but we didn't linger too long since we knew we had a bottle of wine and an evening of knitting time ahead of us in our HoJo hotel room.

We did NOT eat at Chez Albert. Something about the poultry, upon swine, upon steer caused this vegetarian to run the other way...or more specifically a few doors down to the Little Eatery and Tea Place. Amherst fed me well this weekend.

The other pre-planned event of the trip was a visit to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts. On our way there we drove past a sign for a pottery sale. I could not resist and Becky did not object so turn around we did. We encountered a series of fantastic dinosaurs upon entering Kiln Works. The artist let me take a photo of one of his favorites.

The museum must have known we were coming because there were black sheep on the bathroom tiles!

The museum was worth the trip. We got to see an exhibit of Spiderwick art, an exhibit of Leo Lionni and early Eric Carle work and an exhibit that spanned a huge variety of children's book art. I loved seeing so many of the images I had encountered in picture books up close. I discovered that I have a thing for collages. If you aren't familiar with Eric Carle's images, you should check them out. He makes his artwork by painting tissue papers, cutting them, pasting them to a page and then adding embellishments. Ever since I saw Mr. Rogers visit his studio, I have wanted to go to the museum.

We did carve out a good amount of knitting time so I got to finish my socks that I thought would never end. I knit these socks a few rows at a time on the subway. I think I am done with plain old stockinette for a while. My next pair of socks are going to have to be lacework or something more inspiring then knit knit knit knit. These are knit out of Cascade Fixation using the Priscilla's Dream Socks pattern.

I also started a new project with a gorgeous skein of Sheep Shop Yarn - Sheep 3. The fiber is a blend of wool and silk. I am knitting a Roman Earflap Hat with it.
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