Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Malabrigo Amanda Hat

Another F.O.! This one was also made from leftover yarn from a sweater I knitted. Can you tell I am stash knitting?!

I followed The Amanda Hat pattern with just one minor adjustment. I added an extra repeat of the stitch pattern before decreasing for the crown in order to compensate for my smaller row gauge. This hat only used about a 1/2 skein of Malabrigo Merino Worsted!

The stitch pattern is really simple yet has such a neat woven look to it.

The hat has a very sudden and sharp set of decreases which made the overall shape decidedly fez-like. I like that it is a nice, deep hat and the buttery soft yarn makes it really warm and comfortable.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Herringbone Puzzle Top

This wrap has already made an appearance or two, but still deserves a dedicated post. This is my version of the Tantric Puzzle Top (link goes to Ravelry).

The pattern provides you with the schematics and then expects you to chose a yarn, needle size and stitch pattern. I used Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool and a herringbone stitch pattern from Barbara Walker's Treasury #1.

In the pictures that accompanied the pattern the models were shown wearing the top overlapped in the front and tied over one layer in the back. I tried that arrangement with my top but it didn't work for me. It felt too stretched in the front and too floppy in the back. I was able to come up with a way to twist it in the front and tie over the top of both flaps in the back.

This pattern was really fun to make since it was a mystery to me how it would be worn until I finished it. The construction looks more complicated than it is and the simple shapes provided me with lots of mindless knitting. If I made this pattern again, the only thing I would change would be to make the panels slightly narrower. The stitch repeat I used necessitated that it be a bit wider than the pattern called for which means that it ended up wider than my shoulders. Still, this was a fun project in a fun color that will definitely get worn.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


The pace of knitting has slowed down quite a bit this week. It is amazing how much time a full-time job consumes! And, when everything is so new it makes my brain tired. By the time I get home I have enough energy left to walk the dogs, eat dinner and stare into space until getting ready for bed. Exciting times!

Before I went back to work I cranked out a few small projects. Here is one of them:

This is the Ingenue Hat made from leftover yarn from this sweater. The yarn is Classic Elite Countess.

The hat is knit flat and then seamed up the back. I don't love the obviousness of the seam, but I liked everything else about the construction.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Job, New Sights

I started my job yesterday. It was a very nice and welcoming first day complete with a tin of loose leaf tea and a welcome card at my desk.

One of the perks of living where I live and working where I work is that I am able to have a pretty easy public bus commute. I rode the bus to my first day and have already been reminded why public transit is a nice way to get to work. While sipping my tea and looking out the window, I happened to see a very amusing sight that I probably would have missed if I had been driving. The bus stopped alongside a major construction site where there were a bunch of big, burly construction workers in their work boots, jeans, lined sweatshirts and florescent vests. They were gathered in a circle doing coordinated group stretches. I just happened to be there to witness them doing a stretch that very strongly resembled the Dancer yoga pose.

photo from this site

Talk about an entertaining start to the day!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Needle Gauge Necklace

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Sally gave me a gift card to a Bella Lana which I used to get a Debra's Garden needle gauge pendant. When I bought it I imagined turning it into a necklace with red beads. And, I did just that plus I added two little birds.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Knit Out 2009

As expected, I spent most of the day today at the Mall of America attending the 2009 Knit Out. Walking into the Mall of America gives me immediate sensory overload on a normal day so you would think this event would have pushed me over the edge. Instead, I found the non-sales environment of the Knit Out refreshing. My experience was limited to looking, touching and learning without any choice of buying and somehow this made me able to block out the insanity of the environment.

The event afforded me the opportunity to learn a little bit about machine knitting. I had never actually seen a knitting machine, much less learned how they worked so our stop at the Machine Knitting Guild's booth was immensely informative. I am not anticipating converting to machine knitting anytime soon but I am glad to have had some of my curiosity satisfied.

Me, Gillian, Heidi, Brianna, Carrie

I attended the event with some knitters from the CRC Knits group. I've just started knitting with them, so it was fun to spend a good chunk of the day on a knitting field trip while getting to know them better. For the record, we do not knit with Red Heart.

Besides the good company, my favorite things from the day were the knitting fashion show, seeing sample projects from the Knit One Below book and a demo of the knit one below technique, a sock yarn mitered square blanket (holy time consuming!), and seeing the new LB Collection in person. The LB Collection Organic Wool colors are wonderfully saturated and the whole collection of colors work well together.

Mitered Square Sock Yarn Blanket

We also got to take a group photo with the Lion Brand Yarn mascot. What more could you ask for?!

Git Out to the Knit Out

Today is the second and final day of the Knit Out at the Mall of America. I will be there today with my coffee shop knitting group. You should come, too!

If you happen to be taking the light rail, keep an eye out for us. We are taking the train so we can knit our way there and back.

I'll be wearing this yet-to-be-blogged about wrap:

Say "hi" if you see me!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's Not Valentine's Day...

It's my mom's birthday!

We celebrated the day by participating in a half day yoga workshop led by Deanna Reiter (we took a few photos, but I'll spare you those as they are pretty wonky looking). After that we met up with my sister to have a nice lunch at Good Earth. It is really nice to be here to celebrate special events with my family. Happy Birthday Mom!

After lunch we all went our own ways. My way consisted of some yarn shopping. Now that I have a job, I can finally buy yarn again! I refrained from stash enhancement for nearly 1 full year! I am a bit worried about my self-control now that the floodgates have been opened.

Friday, February 13, 2009

At Long Last!

I can finally have that exhale I have been wanting so badly. I got a job! It is a good job, too. One that will be a good fit for now, pay me decently and has potential for future growth. I am glad that I was able to stick it out and keep my standards high. I will have to admit, I was very tempted to apply for things that I didn't really want just because I wanted a job so badly. But, thanks to the constant support of Paul, my family and friends and my stubborn nature, I was able to be selective in my search and end up with something that I don't feel I am settling for.

It definitely wasn't easy, though. In fact, this was the hardest and most morale crushing job search I have ever experienced. Rejection really sucks, especially when the stakes are so high. At one point in my job searching, I started to become curious about my job search statistics. I knew calculating them while still in the midst of searching would only depress me, so after I accepted the offer, I compiled this data:

Statistics of a Job Search

# of applications submitted = 52

# of jobs interviewed for = 9 (including 2 placements agencies that supposedly had temp-to-perm positions)

# of interviews = 12

# of people that interviewed me = 44

# of times I was told I was the second choice candidate and that the first choice accepted the position = 2

length of job search = 6+ months (from September to February with a small break around Christmas, plus a few months prior to September when I was searching from Boston)

a sampling of hoops I had to jump through = typing tests, intelligence tests, personality assessments, computer skills testing, on-the-spot essay writing, interview panels, interview committees, phone screenings, online form after online form, teaching sample lessons, and answering countless questions that started with the phrase "Can you give me an example of a time when..."

Whew! I am so glad that process is over.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tie Asides

One of the blessings of having huge windows is all of the light they let it, but there are a few challenges in essentially having glass as your front wall. The first being privacy at night and the second being glaring sun that can sometimes blind you. I love the curtains to be open as much as possible and so do the plants, but Paul is pretty firm about closing them at dark. With the height of the windows, it is hard to slide the curtains back and forth on the curtain rod, so we needed a solution for quick and easy open and closed transitions.

Enter, a long in the works solution I like to call tie asides. My mom informed me that these things have an official name, but to me they will always be tie asides. The knitter in me knit up some i-cords, let them sit around for a month or two and then brought them to Jamie's to felt them.

I made short ones for the turquoise curtains and long ones for the silk curtains. They are attached to the wall by being strung through eye hooks. Easy peasy, super cheap and totally functional.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Golden Compass Hood

In the interest of full disclosure, I think it is important to share those projects that are less than stellar. This is one of them.

I have had this yarn in my stash since Rhinebeck ‘06 and have never been able to find a good project for it. I thought a warm, soft hood would work, but as has been the problem all along, these colors are not very flattering on me. They are too light and pastel to entirely engulf my face. The yarn is Pucker Brush Farms Cotton and the pattern is Not-So-Bulky Golden Compass Hood.

About the pattern, I am not sure if it is the drapey nature of the cotton yarn, my gauge or the pattern, but I found the hood to be too long. I modified the pattern by putting a 5 stitch wide garter stitch border on it, which I ended up folding over, seaming and turning into a casing for the ties. Folding over that portion of the hood made it a better length and gives me the option of tightening the hood.

I also added a crocheted edging in purple to try to offset the pastels.

I flipped the three needle bind off so that the ridge is on the inside of the hood.

I wanted to love this project, but I am not sure if I will wear it. It IS warm and comfy, but I feel a bit silly in it. I might make this pattern again in a solid turquoise or purple.

The yarn itself was really nice and the pattern is really easy. I just didn’t make the most appropriate choice in pairing the two.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


On Sunday morning, my Black and Decker handheld mixer, while 2 1/2 minutes into a 4 minute mixing session, let off a bad odor, sparked and ceased to live.

We had a nice long run together. Together, we made cakes, sweet breads, muffins, cupcakes, frostings, puddings, meringues, waffles, pancakes, popovers, scones...the list goes on and on.

Before taking its last spin, B&D contributed to the fruition of a Marble Bundt Cake, which was consumed by the lovely ladies of the Crafternoon.

I am left with a bit of guilt because as I was taking the mixer out of the cupboard that morning, I remarked to Paul how nice it would be to own a stand mixer. In response to Paul's question, "What's that?", I proceeded to detail the many ways in which a stand mixer outshines a handheld mixer. I can't help but wonder if B&D died of a broken heart.

Monday, February 9, 2009

February Crafternoon

February's Crafternoon boasted the biggest group yet! I am really enjoying spending time crafting, snacking and bonding with these fabulous ladies.

Jamie and Jen

Kathy (AKA Mom) and Jess

Melanie and Sally

This month's Crafternoon included the finishing of this gorgeous birthday cowl, knit by Melanie and given to Sally.

We are quickly learning the ways of the Crafternoon: the snacks are so good that it is worth showing up hungry, the gathering lasts until the dogs are demanding their evening walk, and I don't tend to get all that much knitting accomplished, but feel a resurgence of inspiration from seeing everyone's projects.

I am already looking forward to next month!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

MIA, Bohus and Turnblad

Over the past few days I have been experiencing some of the things my immediate neighborhood has to offer. It started with an impromptu visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts with Jerri and Zoe on Thursday afternoon.

Admission to The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is free thanks to sponsors of the museum. The museum is so big that we spent nearly two hours there and only saw a small portion of it. Jerri and I both agreed that taking in museums in small doses is the best so as to avoid sensory overload. The great thing about free admission is that it doesn't make you feel guilty for spending short amounts of time per visit.

Part of the reason we kept it short was that I had to get home in time for my at-home dinner date with Paul. We tried an Ayurvedic recipe for a dish called Kitchari. The dish wasn't very photogenic, so instead I will represent the meal with a photo of the fruit plate we also ate:

After dinner, I spent a bunch of time casting on for new, small projects. I am working on projects exclusively from stash yarn at the moment. I don't have a stash that involves sweater amounts of yarns, so I am having to get creative to find uses for the stash yarns I have. In addition to the small projects, I am toying around with some stitch patterns in hopes of developing something I like enough to turn it into a short sleeve, t-shaped sweater.

Today Jamie and I met at my place and then walked the few blocks over to The American Swedish Institute. As many of you know, the ASI is currently displaying a collection of Bohus sweaters. The Institute is housed in the Turnblad mansion. I was equally excited for the mansion as I was for the exhibit.

Check it out! Blue skies and only mildly bundled pedestrians!

I sometimes walk past this building on my dog walks and I love to look at it. It holds a mighty plot of land for being located in the city and the building has a really solid appearance.

They don't allow photography inside of the mansion so I can't show you the insanely tiny stitches of the Bohus sweaters, or the wonderfully warm and sunny solarium, or the abundance of carved woodwork, but take my word for it, it is a decadent building and the sweaters are stunning.

Jamie and I took a tour given by a volunteer who has been with the Institute for over 17 years and clearly has a passion for all things Swedish and/or Turnblad. We were part of a very engaged group of visitors, so our one hour tour was stretched to include more of the mansion than usual and an extra half hour. Luckily I had brought a sock to knit while listening to the tour or else I might have been a bit antsy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sweet and Crackly

Thus far this week has consisted of mostly:
  • house cleaning
  • cooking and baking
  • dance class
  • job searching
  • job interviewing
  • knitting, blocking a project and planning future projects
  • reading
  • hanging out with family
  • walking dogs and snuggling the kitty
Not super exciting, but it does feel rewarding and, for the most part, is a cheap way to spend my out-of-work time.

Last night my dad came over for dinner and shared a non-meat-and-potatoes dinner with Paul and I. And, he liked it. His usual M.O. is to eat all his meals based around meat, but he has been open minded and curious about what we eat. Also, he has been experimenting with making homemade kimchi and is into probiotic foods, so I thought he would like to try our newly found tempeh cutlet recipe. I made collard green coleslaw (recipe from Vegetarian Times - January 2009)and I bought some of the Sunnie Spread from the Wedge to put on super grainy, wheat crackers (I first tasted this spread at Mark and Jerri's and LOVED it!). For dessert, we ate the chocolate crackle cookies shown above and blood oranges.

I think it is a new realization for me how much I like cooking. The process, the motions, the smells, the colors, the textures...all of it is so fulfilling. And, to have other people who I can share the meals with and who will appreciate the work I put into making the meal is really a nice experience. Unfortunately, I know once I am working full-time again, the energy and time I have to devote to cooking, and other creative pursuits, will greatly diminish, so I plan on taking full advantage of my current situation.

Like many other things that I get enjoyment from, I occasionally think, "Could I somehow make a living doing this?" but then I always have the concern that turning it into "work" might suck the joy from it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


As I mentioned before, Saturday was a great day. Here are the other things I had in mind when making that declaration.

On our way out the door to go to breakfast, I spotted a package that had my name on it. The mail doesn't usually come until later in the day, so I was surprised to see it. I happily grabbed the package and brought it with us to breakfast. Inside was this awesome gift from Abby. It is the pendant that I had been pining for since seeing it in December. Thanks Abby! You picked a great color, too! I wore it that day and a few days since then.

The other great part about Saturday was that Paul and I finished our plans together with enough time in the day for me to get to The Beadhive's 40% off sale. I have a lot of beads, but sometimes spending time in a bead store and picking up a few new items can kickstart my jewelry-making mojo. That was definitely the case with Saturday's trip to the store. I only spent $25 but it was enough that I spent the whole evening making things, some of which didn't even incorporate any of the new items.

The store had recently gotten a shipment of charms, many of which were great. I chose this tree of life charm. The silver necklace has been in my possession for a year or two now, but I hadn't yet found the right charm for it. I think this pairing will make me quite happy.

I had pretty much decided on what I was getting and then I saw this disc shaped, turqouise and brown medallion and had to add it to the basket. This bead along with the accompanying stones were what made me go over my budget of $20. I think it was worth it. Something about the sturdy weight of the medallion made me unable to put it back. The beads on the necklace are a much closer match to the medallion than the photo is showing.

My necklace collection far outweighs my bracelets. In the winter I am usually wearing a scarf around my neck, so I don't wear necklaces as often. I recently realized that I should make some more bracelets so I can still incorporate a little bit 'o beads into my winter wardrobe. I loved the subtle stripes of multiple colors in these beads. I paired them with a neutral faceted glass bead.

Last, but definitely not least is this necklace. I have been stewing in my brain for a few years on what to do with these patina, metal beads. I loved them when I saw them so I bought a pair of each color thinking maybe I would make them into earrings. I could never figure out how to show them off in a group but I wasn't willing to break them up because I loved the color combination. It finally came together when I noticed this sterling silver chain and then remembered that I had some beads that were striped with the same colors. The funny thing is I didn't use any new items in this necklace. All of these things have been in my bead stash forever.

I hope that the color stays true in the beads. I am not sure how they were made so I am not sure of their durability. I am sure that I love this necklace!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Beard Bonus

Behold the bonus shanty post regarding beards:

At the Art Shanty Project there is a Confessional Shanty onto which people can post their confessions. There were many amusing ones, but I am choosing to share this one with you:

It reads:
"Bless me father my last confession was hmmm 38 years ago. I am constently lusting after every man I see with a beard and have wild dreams every night about them."

Guess who liked that confession?

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