Sunday, November 30, 2008

Topdown V-Neck Cardigan

Pretty much everything I have been working on lately is for Christmas gifts. As usual, there will be a parade of FOs after Christmas. For now, I have to catch up on a few things I haven't posted yet.

I finally figured out what I was going to do for a closure for my moving cardigan.

After deciding that I didn't want to go the route of handmade frogs for fear that they would be too big and bulky, I bought some from the fabric store. I brought them home, set them on the sweater and thought that they made the sweater look decidedly Asian. I asked a few other people and they agreed that it didn't work. As I wasn't really looking for an Asian inspired cardigan, I finally settled on a metal clasp.

This pattern has some issues. If I had followed it as written, I would have had huge sleeves at the armhole, stranglingly tight sleeves at the elbows and a big bell at the end. That shaping did not work well with my body shape, so after a few false starts while watching the first presidential debate, I came up with a slightly better sleeve. I picked up less around the armhole, reduced less stitches by the elbow and gradually returned to the same number of stitches as I had picked up to make the flared sleeve.

My other issue with this sweater has nothing to do with the pattern and everything to do with the yarn. I bought a whole bag of this yarn and it was all the same dyelot. Yet, somehow, half of one skein was dramatically lighter than the rest. Of course, I didn't notice it until the sweater was basically done and I was too mentally done with this sweater to re-do it. That may have been a mistake. I haven't worn it since it has been finished and it might be due to that dang stripe!

This sweater is the Neck Down Shaped Cardigan #241 from Knitting Pure and Simple. I used 9 skeins of Classic Elite's Renaissance.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Crafting

Yesterday I got to spend the day at Jamie's house doing Christmas crafting. One of the projects I was working on is made of felted sweaters. Jamie makes felted mittens and ends up with lots of scraps from the parts of the sweaters that aren't big enough for use in her mittens. She was kind enough to let me scavenge through her voluminous stash and take what I needed. Her dog Lucy was a great helper. She eats the lint balls off of the sweaters with great intensity. We couldn't help but dress her up in the spare cowl neck. We felt it was really her color.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Aprons and Apples

For the first time in 5 years, Paul and I were able to spend Thanksgiving with my family. We had a great time creating our own traditions and celebrations with friends in Boston, but it definitely isn't the same as celebrating Thanksgiving the way you have for 20-some years.

There were lots of cooks in the kitchen, as we do Thanksgiving as a coordinated pot-luck style event. No one wants to mess up their outfits, so luckily my mom had enough aprons to go around.

(me in the apron I wear whenever I cook at my mom's house)

(Bill and Roger in their aprons, demolishing a turkey. I obviously do not come from a family of vegetarians!)

It is also tradition to pass around the Christmas wish lists after the meal so that the adults can coordinate who is buying what for the kids. Christmas lists have come a long way since I used to present my handwritten list to the adults. Hannah and Spencer have gone high-tech!

Our other traditions include an after-the-meal-but-before-dessert walk and a few rounds of the game Apples to Apples.

My cousin Hannah has started to knit! She brought her knitting along so I got a sneak peak at the Christmas present she is knitting. Her teacher taught her how to knit and it seems like she has a lot of friends that are also knitting. She is hoping to get yarn and needles for Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed for her!

It was great to see everyone and share in a great meal. It was also nice that Paul was there since he hasn't had a chance to be around my family very much. We were only dating for just over a year by the time we moved to Boston, so most of our relationship has happened away from Minnesota. I think he enjoyed being in the midst of the family dynamics. I know my mom was impressed that he helped her do the dishes!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not As Planned

I've been absent from the blog for a few days because I have been sort of stuck in my head thinking about the craptastic state of the global economy, the somewhat frustrating situation I am in and the likely relationship between the two. I think these thoughts can be partly blamed on an overdose of NPR. No matter what the impetus, my thoughts these days have revolved around pretty heady and heavy things.

Paul and I had lots of plans that accompanied our decision to relocate to Minneapolis from the Boston area. We had a lot going for us in Boston. We were both gainfully employed, loved our neighborhood, had made friends, relished the walking/mass transit way of life, enjoyed taking advantage of the many destinations within driving distance and generally felt very much at home. However, we had some big goals we wanted to move towards, which, besides being near our Minnesota friends and family members, were the main reasons we moved here. The plan was to get jobs that paid comparably or better and set ourselves up with a lower cost of living so that we could focus on saving a down payment for a house, have enough money to take a vacation together and just generally relieve ourselves of the paycheck to paycheck existence we have always had. We were willing to give up our lives in Boston for our new and improved Minneapolis existence.

Things do not always work out as planned. We had no way of knowing that the US and world economies would be in this downward spiral. We had no way of knowing that there would be such astonishing job loss numbers, that unemployment would be going sky high and that I would be competing for the same few available jobs with so many well qualified if not overqualified candidates. We don't regret our choice, but we are having to adjust the timeline for our goals.

So, here we are wanting to settle into our "new" city. I call it "new" because even though I consider myself to be from here, it has been 5 years since I've lived here and I've done some changing during that time. Since I last lived here, I have become much more enamored by knitting, food, creative/art/theater events and really knowing the city you live in. In addition to my evolving interests, I feel newish here because of the changes the city has undergone in the time I have been away. I don't know where to get the best burrito in town. I don't have a favorite bakery. I have no idea where I can go to spend my Bed Bath and Beyond gift certificate. I don't remember how to get from point A to point B very efficiently. Basically what I am saying here is that even though I have some foundation knowledge and connections with people here, it doesn't really feel like home yet.

Unfortunately getting involved and experiencing the city has a cost attached to it. There are definitely some free options, but a lot of the things I would like to do come with some sort of cost. Going out to eat costs money. If I check out new stores to see what they sell, I will probably want to buy something. Going to concerts or shows is expensive. Going out for a cocktail isn't free. Spend. Spend. Spend.

The truth of the matter is that it wouldn't be smart of us to spend more than is necessary right now. Paul has a job, which does wonders for staving off feelings of potential doom. I have been earning money by working at a temp job, but it is ridiculously monotonous and at some point I may have to leave it in order to save my sanity. The boredom has already reduced me to tears on one occasion. Pretty much the only things that are currently preserving my sanity are lots and lots of podcasts, lots and lots of NPR and snack food. The job does not require any brain power, so I use the radio and podcasts to engage my mind while I am working, which is currently 40 hours a week. What are these podcasts and radio shows talking about incessantly? They are analyzing every way in which this economic downturn is bad-bad-bad. How it will be bad-bad-bad for months, years and maybe even decades. Hello! That is totally not an uplifting thing to fixate on while job searching. It tends to raise the stress level a bit.

Don't get me wrong. I am not wallowing. I do not dwell in self-pity. I recognize that all things considered, we are not in that bad of a situation. We are paying our bills. We have food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over our heads and a car that works. I have plenty of yarn to knit. I have books to read and movies to watch. I am surrounded by people that love me and will spend time with me and I am good at entertaining myself. I feel grateful and thankful for all of these things.

I know I need to be patient and that things will fall into place for us eventually. When I do finally get a job and we are able to start moving towards our goals, I will be able to let out the biggest exhale of relief. I just hope I don't go blue in the face waiting for that exhale.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Over the weekend I went shopping for supplies for some Christmas gifts that I am making. I found myself at Ax-man, which is the most random and witty store I've ever set foot in. Need doll heads? Gas masks? Petri dishes? Shipping materials? Stickers? Electrical supplies? Communist game pieces?

Ax-man has them all! When I call it witty, I am referring to the signs. Someone goes through great effort to make a sign for each and every random surplus item in the store. I didn't take too many pictures because it is really best experienced in person.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jessy's Birthday

Here are the last of Jessy's birthday pics. These are mostly going on the blog for my mom's sake, who forgot her camera. Hi Mom!

Jessy and her best bud Jamie

Mom and Roger

Jessy and her birthday cake of choice: angel food with cool whip frosting

Saturday, November 22, 2008

She Likes It!

Jessy was happy to receive her Clapotis birthday present, especially since it was COLD the evening of her birthday. We had a good time having a little mini photo shoot in the lobby of the Old Spaghetti Factory after her birthday dinner. Her Clapotis is made out of 7 skeins of Knit Picks Shine Sport in the color Harbor.

Her birthday celebrations aren't over yet. After her night at the bar party tonight, I'll post pictures of the series of birthday celebrations, minus the ones where she is making horrendous expressions. This girl is not camera shy :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Clapotis Complete!

Today is Jessy's birthday and her Clapotis is finished! I had a few people help along the way. And, by "help" I mean partake in the joy that is pushing the dropped stitch A-L-L the way D-O-W-N the scarf. Fun times!

Here is Jamie helping during this past Sunday's Crafternoon gathering. I was too busy knitting like a maniac to take many pictures, but we had a good time. Jamie and Sally were there and Sally brought her friend Melanie, who was a fun addition to the group.

I will be giving Jessy her scarf at her birthday dinner tonight, so I'll be sure to take some photos of her wearing it. I think she is going to like the color.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wedding Quilt

There are a few knitters in my lineage, but my family is much more concentrated in the area of quilting. Both of my grandmothers are quilters and so is my Aunt Rita. For our wedding Paul and I got two amazing quilts. Today, I'd like to show you some shots of the batik sampler quilt that my Aunt Rita made and very generously gave to us. It goes really well with the funky color combinations we have going on in our bedroom but the light is so poor in that room that I had to drape it over the couch to get some decent light.

every square in this quilt is different

i like the purple square a lot

the border

a little, subtle heart in the stitching

I have never made a quilt, so I don't have first hand experience with the time consuming labor that must go into it, but I know enough to know that this baby took hours upon hours to create. I am grateful to have such a labor of love that is both beautiful and functional. Thanks Rita!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Loop-Through Scarf

The sun finally broke this weekend, so I have some photos of finished objects.

First up, the Garter Stitch Loop-Through Scarf from the 101 One Skein Wonders book. I made this out of NY Yarns, NY Cotton.

I finished this a while ago, so I've worn it a little. It is already doing that gravity thing that garter stitch does and is getting longer. I should have made the scarf shorter so that it won't get too baggy once the garter stretches all the way out. Oh well. Hindsight blah blah.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mystery Fiber

Hey Spinners!
Can anyone identify this fiber?

Here are some hints...

It is really soft.

It is long and fluffy.

It matches my bedroom curtains.

I can gather it without leaving my apartment.

It is Fanny fur!

I wonder if this stuff could be spun? I know it felts since she makes dreadlocks in her fur sometimes and if I roll it in my hands it makes a little felted ball.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hot Dogs and Cold People

Tchazo has been brimming with energy lately, so yesterday afternoon I took him to the dog park. Our new dog park is a million times bigger then our old one and when we went, it was a million times colder. Something about where this park is located (right by the airport) makes it really windy and cold. I toughed it out, though, because he was having such a great time sprinting and sniffing and playing. There were a lot of other people and dogs there as well, but the space is so big that people can spread out and walk around without having to have all the dogs concentrated in one place. Another bonus is that it is right by Jamie's house, so next time I'll have to make a double dog date of it with her and her pup Lucy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ooey Gooey Date Night

When we lived in Somerville, Paul and I would often go out to dinner on Friday nights. Since that is not yet in our budget here in Minneapolis, we decided to have Friday night date night at home. We fixed up a fabulous fondue dinner and then watched a movie.

We chose fondue as our dinner because we scored an awesome vintage fondue pot from a church thrift sale when we first moved back to Minneapolis and had not yet broken it in. We nabbed this gem for 2 bucks and it still had the original pamphlet with it!

As I have said before, MN is great for thrifting. Check out Sally's thrifting tips if you like to hit up the thrift stores for clothes. I like the kitchen stuff, but was quite impressed with Sally's clothes scores when we went shopping together recently.

Fondue isn't pretty but it sure is tasty. We followed this recipe.

Besides the requisite baguette, we also dipped all of these yummies:

Our vintage fondue pamphlet made us aware of a tradition we had not previously known about called the Swiss Kiss. Apparently, if your steak falls off your fork into the pot and you are a girl, you have to kiss the nearest man. If you drop your steak and you are a man, you have to buy a round of drinks. Ahhh, the sexist traditions of the 1960s.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Hello and happy Friday. Here is another photo from the "You Know You Are In Minnesota When" series. In the previous case, I knew I was in MN when I could get my hunting and fishing licenses from the service counter. In this case, I know I am in Minnesota when I can buy lefse from the local chain supermarket.

I like it rolled up with butter and sugar and maybe some cinnamon sprinkled on it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Minneapolis has a great and affordable community education program. They offer everything from real estate to writing, from knitting to cooking, from yoga to parenting. I am excited for the next class schedule to be released because I am surely going to sign up for something. This time around I wasn't too sure of my schedule so I refrained from registering. Lucky for me, Charleen ended up having to go out of town for business this week and wasn't able to attend the Infusing Oils class she had registered for. She offered to let me attend in her place. It was a quick class and a fairly simple concept, but I enjoyed having someone spell it out for me. And, in a few weeks, I am going to have some killer rosemary, garlic, red chili pepper infused olive oil to eat.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Magic Combination

The same day I posted this, I got together with my friend Jerri. That afternoon she mentioned that the washcloth in the post was the one that I had given her. I was confused because I gave her a washcloth a long time ago and the one in the photo I had just finished the day before. When I told her that, she said that the one in the photo looked just like hers. I shrugged and explained that I have a bowl of cotton yarns that I chose from when making washcloths. And, that the combination must be one I really liked which was how I ended up making two similar ones.

Fast forward a few days and I am laying on my couch, cuddling with the cat, looking around the apartment. Then, like a smack on the back of the head, I realize I REALLY must like that color combination because, HELLO! it is the exact same combination that Paul and I chose for our paint and curtains in the living room.

Check it out:

Here are the turquoise curtains I sewed, the white window trim that was already there
and the brown wall that we painted.

Here is the washcloth in question.
The blue and brown in the photo actually match even better in person.

I even knit that washcloth IN the room right next to that wall and didn't notice the similarity. So, yeah, I must be a fan of that combination.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Enviable Life

I am not the only one who loves all of the light our apartment gets. The plants love it and the dogs do too. They sunbathe whenever possible.

And, a closeup of sunbathing, Jack Splat style:

These pictures were not taken over the weekend. This past weekend was rainy/snowy and overcast with the exception of a few minutes of sun breaking through the clouds on Sunday. I had wanted to take some pictures of some finished knitted items, but it was too dreary. I'll be on the lookout for the next nice day so I can get them photographed and posted.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Becky!

Today is Becky's birthday. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. I'm bummed I can't celebrate her birthday with her in person, but I am definitely thinking of her today and wishing she could come over and hang out with me Somerville-style. It is so awesome to live a short walk away from friends. And, in Somerville it took less than 15 minutes to walk to each other's houses. Our friendship is a little less convenient now, but I am hoping she comes for a visit soon!

Art Attack

Yesterday, after opening Minnesota checking and savings (ha ha) accounts, we headed to Northeast Minneapolis for Art Attack in the Northrup King Building.

We know a few people with studios there, so we wanted to say hi to them and check out the art and the space. The Northrup King Building was built in 1917 by a seed company. It is located right by railroad tracks and until it became art studios in the 1980s, it was used as base from which seeds where shipped across the country.

This photo is from the NKB website. The cars have "Northrup King & Co. Seedsmen" printed on the side door.

Besides seeing Mike's photos, of course, our favorite part of the experience was checking out the space/building. It is full of these awesome old doors that automatically close using a weighted chain system. Paul and I are both suckers for these types of buildings, which explains why we live in the apartment we live in now.

After finishing up at Art Attack, I headed over to Common Roots for a little chatting time with Genevieve, Jerri and Zoe. Despite the cold, I walked home. It is getting cold enough here that I am reminded that my lifestyle will soon be changing. In Boston, if I bundled up well enough, I could walk where I needed to go year round. Well, that is not the case in Minnesota. Some days it is just too cold to do anything outside. The most outside action I will get somedays is the dash between house and car. I am thinking that in order to avoid a super lazy winter, I am going to need to come up with some sort of class to take or get a gym membership. Ugh. I much prefer walking to where I need to go and calling it my workout.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Palette Cleanser

I recently discovered a pattern in my knitting that I had not previously recognized. That pattern is: knit something time consuming like a sweater or lacy socks, then knit a few washcloths while thinking about the next big project, knit the next big project, rinse and repeat.

I find that I tend to crave knitting a washcloth as a sort of palette cleanser in between large projects. There is something immensely refreshing about whipping out a few washcloths.

Washcloths are great to knit for many reasons. They are useful. They allow you to play with color and texture in a very low risk way. They make great gifts. They are good for stashbusting. And, as I heard the Mason Dixon Knitting ladies mention at their Yarnery event, knitting below your skill level is OK. I definitely understand that concept. I like to knit projects that teach me something new or challenge my skills in some way, but I also find knitting something repetitive and comfortable to be just the right fit sometimes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

World's Oldest Cat

One of the other benefits of spending time at my mom's house is that I get to see Ginger, The World's Oldest Cat, AKA The World's Sweetest Cat and more recently, AKA Gentle Ginger the Jew (apparently, she has taken my mom's Jewish husband's last name).

About 6 or 7 years ago Ginger had some major health issues. Her kidneys had shut down and she was in renal failure. My mom was taking her to the vet all the time to monitor her levels and give her medication. Some of her visits turned into overnight stays in order to get her organs out of "crisis" mode. Ginger HATES going to the vet and every visit upped her stress level exponentially. My mom had gotten to the point where she was sure we were going to lose her. Ginger had lost tons of weight, was hiding in the closet, not eating or drinking and pretty much barely alive. My sister and I had both gone over and snuggled her for what we thought might be the last time. For some unexplained reason, she came out of it and gradually regained her weight and her strength.

She is now 17 years old, blind in one eye, fat and happy. She no longer goes to the vet, because it seems to do her more harm then good. She does still like a good belly rub, purring up a storm, licking my hair and chasing any toy with feathers on it.

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