Saturday, May 31, 2008

It's gonna be all 70's cool!

So this morning I rolled up my sleeves, got out the Lime Away, and started working on my newest project.  New in that I'm only just now able to start working on it - it's been sitting there forever.  It's gonna be a big ass terrarium in my dining room!  Apparently terrariums became popular in New England in the Victorian era when it was all the rage to bring the outside in, and to keep exotic specimins.  To me though, they just seem kind of 70's, with their pieces of driftwood and whatnot.  Anyway, mine is gonna be way sweet!  I have a 70 gallon aquarium that has finally been drained - it involved having to siphon the water out, and since we don't have any nifty automatic siphon starter dealy, it meant sucking on a hose and ultimately ending up with a mouthful of fishwater - not my mouth, mind you!  The BF did that part, and that's why it's been sitting there forever - first it was cold and snowy out and we'd have to open a window to feed the hose outside, then once it warmed up, well it still involved mouth siphoning so needless to say, it took a while to get around to feeling like actually doing that!  So anyway, here's the empty and clean-enough-for-my-standards aquarium - seriously, I used Lime Away to clean off the calcium buildup, then Windex to clean off the Lime Away - I wiped on that thing forever and I don't think it's gonna get any better!  I'm going to visit my favorite nursery - North Dayton Garden Center to get some great plants!  Seriously, it's the best place in the world for houseplants (and outside stuff too - but I looove their houseplants).  They grow it all there - it's not just stuff they take off the back of the truck like at Lowe's or something.  You'll get to the end of a jungle-like aisle in the greenhouse sometimes and realize that suddenly you're looking at stuff that isn't really for sale - it's a grizzly bear sized jade plant or cactus and there are bunches of little clay pots, with that old green mossy look, around with baby starts in them.  It's so old and real and not all sterile and clean and picture perfect - the plants are big and they take over the aisleways, and they always have things you've never seen before in your life!  not just perfect little philodendrons from a Better Homes and Gardens page.  Have you ever seen a Hoya blooming?  I didn't even know they did!  they do there!  But since everything there is used to a nice humid greenhouse environment, I sometimes lose the stuff when it gets to my very ungreenhouse-like house.  With a nice warm and humid terrarium though - just think of the possibilities!!  I can't wait.  I'll give you an "after" shot once it's planted!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A day off work is even better than a weekend!

Maybe weekends get a little routine - it's when I do laundry and vacuum and watch Pet Stars or something semi-crappy because there isn't anything on during the morning wake-up coffee time. But one vacation day is like a month of weekends!  It means I get to stay up late on Sunday night and not set my alarm on Monday morning, and once the BF goes to work - the day is mine!  Today is a vacation day Monday!  I went to the Stitching Post because they were having a big fabric sale (actually like everything in the store is on sale) but ended up not getting fabric.  Their selection is small, and frankly of higher quality than I'm willing to pay for.  I'm not making business suits - just summer dress and what not - stuff I may or may not even like next season.  I'm cheap!  And I want fun cheerful fabric - the Stitching Post always feels old and serious to me.  Buuuut, they did have all their yarn 40% off  - and I just decided this morning that I probably have enough time to make a pair of gloves for my dad for Father's Day.  So I got a few balls of Elle Elite (a wool/cotton blend, but it feels much more wooly than cottony) in a nice charcoal grey and I plan to use Anne Budd's basic pattern but put a staghorn cable up the back of the hand.  I cast on for them when I got home!  I also picked up some pretty yellow Lana Grossa cool wool (sport weight, I think) for some gloves for me (probably).  I'm kind of on a glove kick lately.  Ravelry will go weird things to ya!  After the Stitching Post, I stopped by the library where I had two books reserved - Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts (which I thought I'd check out in case I decide to dive into a baby quilt, which I've been mulling about) and The Big Ass Book of Crafts.  That last book is the best - I saw it at Border's but just couldn't justify the money - then I remembered the library - that place that lets you use books for free!  It's written by Mark Montano - that guy who's on all the TLC shows - While You Were Out, and now that goofy 10 Years Younger.  Apparently he's got quite a few books out - this one has lots of funky crafty ideas.  Mostly stuff for the house - but wacky, funky, so-tacky-it's-cool, kind of stuff.  I love it.  After the library I stopped at the Goodwill in the Oregon District because Andi, from the Sunday knitting group, was deconstructing a sweater last night and it renewed my desire to hunt and harvest some thrift store sweater yarn for myself!  Apparently this time of year they put out mostly cotton sweaters and I was really hoping for some wool.  I didn't find any wool I liked, but I did find a nice deep green 100% silk men's sweater!  I think it's like a 2x!  yippee!  I should take a picture I guess - but I didn't.   My only worry is that it has an embroidered logo - but I think I can get that off.  Oh, and my other worry is the fact that it has no shoulder seams!  So the body is just one big piece with a neck hole, and sleeves attached.  So, I'll have to have a few more knots - that's ok!  I didn't go in there intending to buy stuff that I wouldn't rip apart, but dammit, I found a grey zip-up sweater hoodie that I liked, and a goofy faire aisle sweater vest that I couldn't turn down, and a great olive scoop neck sweater - super smooth and soft.  AND - the piece de resistance - as I was leaving the dressing room and putting my discards on the rack - I spotted a fantastic purple dress, brand new, also on the discard rack (why???) in what I hoped would be exactly my size, so I grabbed it and jumped back in the dressing room.  It fit.  Like a dream.  Has pockets - which i LOVE.  and was $4.99.  SCORE!  I'll be wearing it tomorrow which will make my return to work a little easier!  

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Look ma! I'm knittin' all continental-like!

So I've spent the better part of the afternoon watching continental knitting videos on YouTube and I think I've finally figured out what's been fouling me up with the continental purling thing.  As I previously mentioned, my typical intentions-without-actions MO isn't going to fly with this idea that I should learn to knit continental since I knit with Emily, who, since hearing me say I was toying with the idea, has not let me forget about it and continue on with my comfortable English knitting ways.  I'm kind of afraid that her verbal poking is going to eventually turn into Addi poking if I don't get this shit figured out!  So this, combined with my recent need to just knit something simple and singular (i.e. not two of something, which seems to be my kick these days - socks, mittens, fingerless gloves) has led me to my newest WIP.  I decided that I really just don't want a clapotis, which was the project that I'd decided would be my continental learning project.  I think I'm not a wrap kind of person.  I am, however, a cardigan kind of person and doing a top down cardigan requires lots of purling which is what I really need to practice most.  I've decided that I'm going to make the Anthrolopoligie Inspired Capelet - kind of.  I'm not using bulky yarn, because I think the yellow Maggi Linen that I have is still calling to me and I'm sure I've got enough of it for a smallish project.  I hope anyway.  So I'll have to refigure some numbers since this is technically worsted weight (although it's not the easiest thing to knit since it's made up of 5 individually plied bits, which are not plied to each other.)  I swatched (in continental!) with the size 8's that the ball band recommended but really didn't like how loose the fabric was.  I probably should have moved down to a 6, but my needle search turned up a pair of size 4 Addis so that's what I tried and liked the look of.  I suppose I can't really call it a WIP until I actually cast on, but I'm sure I will before the day is over- I'm never a very responsible swatcher and always stop way short of a 4" square!  So anyway - there's my progress report on my foray into continental knitting.  It still kind of hurts my hands - mostly my right hand which I apparently use to put a death grip on the needle for some reason.  I'm trying hard to just relax my last 3 fingers, which I believe are the issue.  I'm going to have to watch some of the other continental knitters in my group and see what they do with their hands.  Oh, the thing that was fouling up my ability to purl, and what I learned most from the videos, was how to hold my yarn.  At first I just had no tension - and that's still a bit of  a problem - but also I realized that if I wrapped it such that the yarn would come off the front of my index finger, instead of coming from behind it, I can rotate it forward for the purling.  That's the opposite of how I used to hold it for English knitting.  Also, it helps me to wrap the yarn twice around my index finger to keep tension since apparently my left pinky can't grip for shit.  Hey, you live and you learn and thank god for the internet to help you along that path!  

P.S. Sorry 'bout the craptastic focus on the picture - had you seen me pushing the timer button then quickly trying to grip the camera under my chin against my chest, and get my hands back in place, you might better understand why the ball of yarn in my lap got the focus instead of the actual knitting in my hands!  

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fiberlicious Saturday

It's amazing how much shopping for yarn and petting sheep can wipe a girl out!  This morning a bunch of us went to the Upper Valley Fiber Festival in Troy and had a grand old time.  I think it must have worn everyone else out too because no one has uploaded their haul on Ravelry yet and it's nearly 9:30 at night!  I'm pretty sure everyone went home and napped.  I made a big shopping list but didn't cross anything off except for some needles that I needed.  I did however score this kettle dyed lace weight for the Ribbon Lace Scarf and this Malibrigo laceweight for a Shetland Triangle.  Lovely!  After shopping we all plunked down and chowed on french fries.  The super nice owner of our new LYS, Yarnique, took this picture to commemorate our fry eating! That's Kathleen, Emily, me, Samantha, Emily (yes, two Emilys!) and Ginny.  Come on guys - put your hauls up on Ravelry - I forget what everybody got!  We missed the sheep shearing, but we did get to pet some, both pre and post shearing and the guy told us all about how to clean the wool - trying to sell us a whole sheep's worth, I think, which none of us were particularly into dealing with.  Although I can see Samantha undertaking such a thing one of these days!  I also got to hold the cutest angora bunny ever.  I think she said this one was only 10 weeks old!  It felt like holding a cloud - well a cloud that enjoyed chewing on the zipper of my sweater!  I can't even imagine having a pet that requires the maintenance that these do, but boy did I like cuddling with it!  It's so cool to go places like this where everyone's into the same thing and asks who you are on Ravelry, etc.  I don't think any of us can go home and expect to carry on much of a conversation with the SO about shawls made of sport weight merino vs. laceweight, but we certainly could here!  

Friday, May 9, 2008

Like losing a friend

Wednesday the BF called me at work and said "you aren't going to believe what just happened!"  Turns our a HUGE branch from the neighbor's 100+ year old hackberry tree came crashing down into our yard.  We've watched this tree blow ar
ound like nobody's business whenever it gets stormy and I always worried that it could take down half my house if it decided to go.  It's right next to, and over, the neighbor's house, so it could easily take theirs down too. 
 All things considered, this is about the best case scenario - it fell into the yard hitting nothing.
  However, this branch left the tree lopsided and very prone to rotting therby put both of our houses in danger.  So the tree is coming down.  I feel horrible and it isn't even my tree.  It shades both of our houses in the summer and it's the thing I see from nearly every window on that side of the house.  What's the view going to be like now?  I took a picture from my sewing room window, which faces it, so that I could see the before and after.  Even this picture seems bare to me since it's where the giant branch is missing.  

 I feel so bad for my neighbor - we were out talking over the fence and she actually started crying.  She want to do something fitting for the tree so she's having some of the wood milled and dried so that she can have something built to keep in the house.  I thought that was great.  Especially since I have no idea how much that kind of thing costs, but the tree removal is more than $4K and insurance pays next to nothing.  The fence between
 our yards got mighty crunched, but it can be repaired, the yard is now a mud bowl because of the bobcat that keeps driving though to pick up branches but the grass will come back,  my plants are crunched but not killed.   Nothing will replace that old tree and I much sadder than I thought I would.    I can't stop watching the guys in their big lift cutting pieces down. 
 The neighbors took me up on their roof, which has a flat top and is REALLY up there - good thing I'm not afraid of heights.  I got to check out my roof, which felt miles below, and see just how badly my gutters need to be cleaned!  The tree extends probably 20 fee above their roof and it was amazing to see them work from that vantage point.  When they cut pieces and dropped them to the ground, you could feel the vibrations all the way up there!  Well, guess I'll go watch some more - it's both sad and fascinating.   This was the final before shot I could get before the cutting started:
Good bye ol' friend!

Monday, May 5, 2008

The 5 Stages of Becoming a Continental Knitter

I've always known that knitting continental is way cooler than english style, but man is it hard to change!  It's like learning to knit all over again and that's really hard when you fancy yourself to be a pretty decent knitter who, when trying to knit continental, looks kind of like a retard who just learned to knit an hour ago.  I know I shouldn't worry about it, but it makes me nuts!  My friend Emily, however, is a crazy good and fast knitter and I'm all jealous of her.  She's knit continental since leaving the womb (seriously - only shortly thereafter.  try 3rd grade.)  and she'strying to help me make the leap, mostly by jabbing at me with a "so how's that continental coming?" comment when she notices that I'm not doing it (which is all the time!)  I think about it every time I'm knitting and I passed through the denial, anger, and excuses phases this weekend by telling myself that I don't need to knit faster - this is supposed to be fun, dammit!  and also I remind myself that it hurts my hands to knit that way (even though I know it hurt when I first learned to knit english too.)  So now I'm in the grief stage - i.e. Emily won't stop giving me grief!  haha!  Therefore I'm going to move toward acceptance and commit to this thing - she suggested that I do something with a long string of purling, as opposed to ribbing or something where I have to do a bunch of switching back and forth.  I'm not so bad at the knitting part - I do colorwork with both hands so I'm always picking the color on my left and throwing the color on the right.  It's the purling that gets me down and makes me look all stupid.  I've decided that I'm going to make a clapotis - something I never really had any desire to make, but it does have the "purl all stitch on odd rows" instruction which meets my criteria, and it requires something like 800 yards.  I've got two stashes of roughly that much yarn that I've yet to find a project for and it's been keeping me up at night - it's such a weirdo amount!  I'm going to use my yellow Magi linen and I think it'll be fantastic.  When I'm done with that baby, I'd better be a continental knitter!   I hope you're happy Emily!  

Ooh, and on a totally different note - I finished a dress this weekend that actually turned out great - and fits! 
 I love love love it!  I especially love the keyhole and the neckline:
 - oh hell, I love it all!  It has cool seams that run down the front then curve under the pockets - oh yes, it has pockets!  and they're lined!  It's Simplicity 2927.  There were a whole slew of Simplicity patterns that I wanted to grab so I wrote them down in my little purse notebook then stalked them until JoAnn's put them on sale for $1.99.  So  now I have a stack of 8 patterns, but I'm already thinking about making this one again!  Ok, gotta go ice some cupcakes (german chocolate!)  

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Starting stuff, finishing stuff, avoiding cleaning

So I put in a gigantic order from Webs during their big sale in which Cascade 220 was only 4.89/skein and it came in on Wednesday.  Whee!  I had to prewarn the BF that a giant 9 lb box of yarn would be delivered but that it was NOT all for me.  He never gives me a hard time, but I always feel a little bad spending bunches of money on yarn since I give him the how-much-money-do-you-think-we-have-for-that-kind-of-stuff stink eye whenever he mentions musical gear that he wants.   The order really wasn't all for me - two other friends went in with me so that our shipping would be cheaper, but I got the fun of getting a giant box of yarn come to the house!  I ordered some natural color for a sweater that my mom asked me to make for her so I finally started it last night.  I haven't taken a picture yet because it's just 2.5 rows in and you can pretty much picture 2 and a half rows of garter stitch in natural colored wool, can't you?  I'm going to make Norah Gaughan's Tweedy Aran cardigan.  My mom is just a tiny thing - I think her bust measurement was only 33" or something, but she's got this thing about not wearing fitted sweaters.  She tells me that tight arms "make her hot" and she does this frantic yanking at her upper arm thing to show me how crazy it makes her.  I know that a more fitted sweater would look nicer on her, but I'm not about to tell her that, and I figure at some point in your life you care much more about comfort than fashion.  Because she's my mama I'll make her what she likes.  This sweater does have some waist shaping which hopefully she won't complain about - I think she really just wants a waist-length boxy thing.  She gave me a sweater that she does like the fit of and it's like 42" around.  I noticed that Interweave has started giving info about the modeled sweaters - like "the model is wear the size 43.5" version" and sometimes they'll even tell you how much ease that is.  I love that!  And, lo and behold, the model, who I imagine is probably about my mom's size (except that she's only 5'2" or so) is wearing the 43.5" version and it looks not at all sloppy on her.  I think this will look just lovely on my mom!  I'm going to try to make the arms the next size up and hope that they won't look puckery when I sew them in.  I saw on Neither Hip nor Funky's blog her version of this sweater where she made little triangular gussets to go on the under arm to make them a little bigger and she said they fit in just fine.  

My most recent FO is a cowl (my new obsession) that I started so that I could have something easy to knit on during my trip to Memphis for a meeting this past week.  It's basically just a giant version of the Jaywalker chevron pattern and I used some stashed Crystal Palace Deco ribbon yarn in a sort of olive-y color way.  Unfortunately I had it finished by the time I got to the hotel - unfortunate in that I then had nothing to knit on the flight home, or at the knit night that I thought about going to down there with the Memphis Knit Mafia (although they meet at a coffee shop and all look very sweet, so it's probably not too too mafia-like - the name still pleased me though!)  I did, however, get to wear it the next day and even my boss (who's every word annoys me) commented that hey, I got it done, because he saw me working on it in the airport.  I really should have taken a picture when I got home that night, but it was late and I was tired and now I have no FO photo because I just haven't had a good photo op since.  I'd do it now except that I'm just schlupping around in a tee shirt and loungey pants because I'm supposed to be cleaning this morning and there's no way I'm showering till I get that done.  I just kind of raked my hair down with my fingers and it's definitely not something to immortalize in a photo!  And yes, I know that blogging is not even close to cleaning, but I'm really good at dragging this crap out all day, alright!?