Friday, March 31, 2006

Am I The Only One Flashing?

I'll be Flashing My Stash tomorrow!!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Return from Atlanta

Things have been awfully quiet here at XRK lately, but I do have some stuff to report.

Mr. Science and I had a ball in Atlanta, despite Duke losing the first game. Once your team goes out, you can just really enjoy some good basketball and not care about the outcome. So we were treated to overtimes and last-second three pointers and blocks and some really good collegiate bands. I think the heartbreaker was Sunday night when Villanova went out. They were our team this year, and it really hurt to see them go down.

Yes, I really love a basketball tournament, but I also really love being somewhere without the kids with my husband. It was all-grown-up, all-the-time. Sleeping late, drinking wine with lunch, eating dinner at 9pm, bars, tragically hip cocktail lounges with tragically expensive cocktails, touring historic sites, eating anchovies and smoked meats for dinner, chatting with local celebrity chefs, celebrity sightings, riding in taxis and chauffered Towncars, making friends with total strangers, Atlantans and Texans and basketball fans in bars and at the games. We loved it so much that we are going to make this an annual event, and have already signed up for tickets for the first round in Chicago next year.

And wow, was it nice to hear people talking Southern again! Philadelphians have their own accent, and while it contributes to the local flavor of my fair city, there is something so soothing about having a chili cheese dog at the Varsity listening to that smooth lilt of a Georgian man, talking about reading his kids a bedtime story. And in Atlanta, the trees are light green now, and the air smells like Spring. It was a little shot of Richmond for me, just when I needed it most!

The kids did great with my mom and my mom did great with the kids. They didn't miss us a bit, but were awfully happy to see us on Sunday when we got home. Now, of course, they are both sick -- Rosebud with a cold and Pepe with a tummy bug -- but it is nice to back together again.

And as you can see, I did manage to knit while we were gone. And when I returned home, my first crocuses had appeared. This is the first thing I have actually planted at the new suburban homestead, so this was a real moment for me. And just in time for Spring, I finished the Kimono Angora tipless gloves!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

And now, it's snowing ...

This morning, we have snow on the ground. Not enough to delay school, but enough to cover the grass and make the cherry blossoms look like big pompoms. Beautiful! On Sunday, this was the scene at my friend's grandfather's old daffodil farm:

N is wearing her Fletcher sweater from Tadpoles & Tiddlers knit in Rowan All Season Cotton -- it's a bit over a year old now. It was a joy to knit ...

I'm on the sleeves of a sweater for N or R, I'm not clear if it will fit N, but I'm knitting the biggest size I can with the sale yarn. I hate sleeves. All that tedious increasing that seems to never, ever end. So I knit up this fun baby hat:

This is for my friend Jenny who we saw this weekend. She's having her 3rd baby and needs more baby stuff like she needs a hole in the head, but I love the leaf design and the purple color. It's hard to get a good picture of it ... I used some Wildfoote sock yarn that I had with size 3 needles. It was a nice break from the chunky cotton on size 10s.

I'll be ready for the KAL socks after this weekend friends! I've just got to finish the dratted sleeves ....

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dulaan #1 & 2

Here are XRK's first (unless y'all are holding out on me!) hats for the Dulaan Project! Here are just the many things that I love about these hats:

1. They are for charity, and with knitting being the single most indulgent thing I do, a little Lenten service to others eases the Catholic guilt.

2. They are both red and pink, so they are another entry for Project Spectrum.

3. These were knitted from stash yarn and leftovers. I have discovered that Dulaan hats are the perfect project for these little balls of leftovers and for one-off skeins. See Project Notes for details.

4. They are totally mindless projects, easy for basketball knitting.

5. The models, of course.

Project Notes:
Yarn: Yarn-not-to-be-named in Cranberry. Yet another reason to love this project, because this yarn was, let's say, ill-gotten. You may recognize this super-warm, soft yarn from a previous project. When I ordered the yarn this fall for that project, it took forever to arrive. When I called to inquire, it seems that said yarn shipper did not have my new address, and sent the original package to Richmond. When I called to complain, we discovered this, and the nice folks sent me another package of 7 skeins of yarn. The lovely person on the phone said that likely the yarn would be returned to them, rather than forwarded along to me. I guess I forgot to ask what to do if I did indeed receive the yarn. Well...

Here I am with seven skeins of this lovely yarn. I could simply thank the yarn gods for blessing me with free yarn, or appreciate the returns of supporting a company with excellent customer service, but oh, the guilt!

So this yarn has been earmarked for charity knits, and it truly is perfect for Dulaan knitting, as it is thick and warm.

The helmet hat is knitted with a single strand of said ill-gotten, guilt-inducing yarn, and the ribbed brim uses it, as well as two different shades of pink held along. I think the hot pink was KnitPicks merino style, and the light pink is the final vestiges of that Patons Classic Merino I complained about last week. Look at the difference in colors! It has me looking at my stash and oddballs in a whole new light. It's a shame that you can't see how lovely and variagated the red and hot pink look, but wow!

I used US9s for both hats, and I will say that I am hoping that the nice Mongolian person who gets the helmet uses it as a liner under another, more substantial hat, but the brimmed hat is warm and thick all on its own.

The helmet hat was based on a Blue Sky Alpaca Free Pattern that called for a bulky yarn and size 13s or something. As I never jumped on the bulky-yarn-thick-needles bandwagon, I had neither stash-reduction candidates nor appropriate needles. The roll brim hat was a total improvisation.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Travel Advice

As you may remember, Mr. Science and I are this weekend traveling to Atlanta for my fantasy trip of seeing Duke play in the NCAA Tournament. He is planning our culinary adventures, and, like most knitters, I am first deciding what knitting project to take.

This is where you come in. I have whittled it down to two potential portable projects, both socks, of course:

1 -- the obvious choice is something from Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush. My first koigu socks are calling to me...

2-- Simply Lovely Lace Socks, our potential first team sock KAL. I am throwing this out there to see if y'all are ready to begin this pair yet.

Let me know what you think!

In the meantime, I am wrapping up some other small projects. I made a quick hat for Dulaan this weekend, and quickly cast on for another. I have begun my Blue Heron Wrap, but have stepped away from it for a bit. It requires some thought before I continue.

I also need to finish my tipless gloves. I had to put them aside because imagine how annoyed I was when I came to the final step, the last thumb, and this is how much yarn I had left:

Friday, March 17, 2006

Stay the course (I think)

I had another CAVN consultation this morning. How can something so simple make me so nutty? Trish said stay the course. I'm not sure she was completely convinced, but I'll keep moving. I missed my self-imposed deadline of this past weekend, but it was 80 degrees anyway. This project is about two seconds away from being stowed away until fall.

(Especially since I just bought my project -- a striped pullover in Rowan Calmer!)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

House to House

Okay all you Philly Knitters out there! A friend of mine, Maria Möller, is performing a play (which she wrote) on concepts of home and house ... put it on the calendar and book the sitter! It's called "House to House" -- go see it and tell her Hello from me!

"House to House"
written and performed by Maria Möller
directed by Kathryn TeBordo
sound design by Dan Scholnick
Friday and Saturday, April 7 and 8 at 8pm
Sunday, April 9 at 3pm
CEC (Community Education Center)
3500 Lancaster Avenue, University City
As far as my knitting goes, my head is just swimming with projects to start, but first I must finish this cardigan for N. A friend lent me Kaffe Fassett's Pattern Library and all I can say is, "Oh brave new world!" What a treat for this newbie knitter to discover what incredible possibilities are out there ... now back to the cute, boring cardigan!

FO -- Another Baby Sweater!

Pattern & Source: Child's Placket Neck Sweater from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Halvorsen
Yarn: Plymouth Encore Colorspun
Modifications: None
This sweater and hat (pattern from the same book) are headed down to Richmond for my friend Laura's new baby Sam, so keep your eyes peeled in the Carytown Ukrops this fall for this sweater!

And here's something lovely in the interest of Project Spectrum. My Christmas amaryllis just bloomed.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Project Spectrum -- Sitcom Chic

Project Spectrum asks its participants to view their world through the prism of color. I have been enjoying my red and pink projects, and should have some FOs to post this week. However, I think it is instructive to return to past projects and subject them to a thorough review. So, in honor of Project Spectrum, I bring you:

The Good Pink and The Bad Pink.

The Good: Sitcom Chic, knitted in CottonEase. This is my all-time favorite knitted garment, and the one that gets the most wear. The perfect combination of a great pattern and a great yarn creating a wonderful finished piece.

This sweater is almost a year old, and I wear this little cardigan at least once a week. It looks as good as the day it was knit -- no fading or fuzzing, no stretching or anything. I machine wash and dry flat, and again, it is in great shape. Say what you will about Lion Brand, but Cotton Ease was a great yarn. And I will never forgive Lion Brand for discontinuing it, and am still looking for a substitute worsted cotton.

Bonne Marie's pattern was terrific: clear and simple to understand, no errors, and just enough interest to keep an easily-bored knitter interested. I absolutely love the eyelet detail and all the shaping looks beautiful.

The Bad: Shimmer, knitted in Patons Classic Merino
This pattern caught my eye immediately in Knitty, and I just loved it. I will not criticize the pattern; this knitting disaster was caused by a combination of the yarn and the knitter.

This was my first lace pattern, and I had real trouble frogging it when necessary. In the pattern, you can make the back longer by doing additional repeats before you attach the sleeves and begin the raglan shaping. I didn't really intend on making the back longer, but I did an extra repeat simply because I didn't read the pattern all the way through. I should have frogged at that moment, but kept going since frogging was too much trouble. Well, combine that one extra inch or two of fabric with a too-tight ribbed edging, and it creates an arrow shape under my armpits that points directly to my boobs. And not in a good way. It is just really unflattering.

The yarn has pilled so horrifically. I have taken the shaver to it, and it just keeps getting worse with every wear. It really looks homemade. Patons Classic is forever a felting yarn for me from now on. I actually have felted with it, and it not only looks great, it holds up nicely.

The only good thing that I can take away from this project is that I did learn how to shorten a sleeve by running waste yarn through a row, carefully snipping a row of stitches, and then knitting down from the live stitches. A very instructive process, to be sure. I am considering frogging the whole sweater to re-use the yarn for a felting project, but it will sit in the closet knit-up until the right felting project arrives on the horizon.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Stunning Hat in my Future

This hat is just amazing and will be knit sometime in the next few months with my new Noro. Martha emailed Jean Wong and will be sent the pattern at some point -- I can't wait!!

As a sidenote to all the Skins Fans out there (Mr. Science), woo woo to the signing of Antwaan Randle El! And Liz, when do you guys head down to Hot-lanta?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Shh, don't tell the stash police ...

I just finished some nice stash enhancement this morning. Let's just say that my perfect morning is upon me ... yarn sale ... kids out on an adventure with hubby ... 70 degrees ... my compost is looking beautiful ... and all my seeds for this year have arrived. I will make this a quick post since I obviously have some fun still ahead of me.

The Lettuce Knit yarn sale was fab as always. I have a Noro hat, Noro scarf, and Maggi's Aran Tweed cable sweater in my future. In the first picture, you can see Tina searching high and low for the perfect yarn for her hubby's sweater. And in the 2nd, Robin and Waller (with a bit of Martha's back) just thrilled with the sale yarn in the back (there was really good stuff under the table as well). Here was my take (not under my $100 limit, but not by much ...):
I'm thrilled to have finally bought my first Noro. Here is the Rowan Cotton Rope project that I'm currently working on (a sweater for N in parma for Easter) ...
I'm off to enjoy the beeeeuuuuuutiful day!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Color, Color Color

We lost our router for a day or two, so I have been offline and amazed at the things I can get done without spending gobs of time on Bloglines. And, as I'm sure you're expecting, after the vast expanses of white, I am bingeing on color around here!

Project #1: (left) Kimono Angora tipless gloves, based on Ann Budd's glove recipe in the Handy Book of Knitting Patterns. I remember thinking that I would never knit gloves; all those fingers seemed so tedious! Well, fingers, it turns out, are small, and especially if you dispense with the fingertips, they get done pretty fast! This yarn is delicious, but I keep getting little bits of fuzz in my mouth! I swatched this yarn quite a bit to come up with a fabric that I liked, and US3s were the winner, which is a considerably tighter gauge than the ball band recommends.

Project #2: (right) It's another Placket Neck Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, this time in Encore Colorspun. I know, I know, it is a mostly acrylic blend (75% acrylic, 25% wool), but I will say that this yarn is great for baby stuff. While I do not mind handwashing or generally fussing over handknits, I can't expect all recipients of knitterly goodness do so. My first consideration of any knitted gift be that the recipient actually wears the garment. Encore is easy to take care of and very soft and wearable, and I will even admit, very pleasant to knit with. So there, take that, fiber snobs!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

She's gone

I guess panic mode was real. I did save about four inches on one side and at least nine on the other. I need to measure and count better this time.

Panic mode

Panic may be too strong a word, but more like, "I don't want to rip this darn thing out again, but it just doesn't seem right!" I think I'll hold off until Tuesday when I can vist my knit goddess Trish and get some frank advice. It was her shop sample that brought me this far.

The problem with cleverly constructed garments is that your instincts get tricked. I keep measuring this thing, and I just don't see how it's going to fit properly once it's all together. My gauge is on target, so did I make the wrong size? Will it really stretch that much? Can I make some adjustments without frogging the entire piece? Please knit goddess send me a message! Where did I go wrong?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A view with a womb ...

Well, with the pressure of the auction behind me, I was able to knit up some fun projects this week: a fun pink uterus with Lamb's Pride worsted in Victorian Pink and a Multi-Directional Scarf in Patagonia Nature's Cotton 205. The scarf is actually quite long -- I have it doubled over in the picture -- and is just so comfortable and the colors look fantastic. The womb is quite small and cute -- I think my friend Sue and her daughter will love it!

I quite enjoyed your list of movies, Mo. You are an excellent resource for films ... we just started working on our Netflix from before the Olympics. We watched The Girl in the Cafe last night. Fantastic! I highly recommend it. Am I just insane that I was studying Kelly Macdonald's sweater? It looked wonderful ...

I picked up some yarn at The Yarn Lounge on sale this past week (I was very, very bad ...) and now have yarn for those lace socks -- shall we KAL?

Mo, plans for the 11th? Want to meet before the doors open at Lettuce Knit for their sale? I am the ultimate enabler ...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Sasquatch Socks

Sasquatch Socks -- Finished!
Pattern based on garter rib pattern in Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch, but using Wendy's Toe-Up Socks Technique. Yarn is handspun virgin wool from the Wooly Sheep in Maryland. I had a flyer with information on it, but cannot put my hands on it. I serendipidously bought this yarn over Christmas when the family and I visited Brandywine Museum, and the folks from Wooly Sheep were one of many excellent vendors of all things handmade.

After swatching, I decided to knit it on US3s, which was a fortuitious choice, as Mr. Science has size 13 feet, and these were a surprisingly quick knit. I did knit the toes and heels on US2s to reinforce these areas a little. This was also the first time I used EZ's Sewn Cast-Off, and am in love with this technique. Not too fiddly, and a great stretchy cast-off for toe-up socks.

I named them Sasquatch Socks because, obviously, Mr. Science has big feet, but also because this yarn was wonderfully rustic and these socks have a real outdoorsy, classic handknit look. Mr. Science complains that he can never get socks that fit, and he does love them. Let's thank him for modeling for me!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Project Spectrum

A case of the right thing at the right time, I decided to join Lolly's Project Spectrum, my first official Knit-Along. This is my kind of KAL, as participation is very loose. And since finishing Jules, all I want is color, color, color!

The color for the month of March is red and pink. And damn! Do I have pink projects planned? Yes I do! First, I need to finish Mr. Science's Man Socks, and then onto the following:

- pink koigu socks -- I am thinking Pomatomus socks, but is still up in the air
- pink Blue Heron wrap -- Ruffles and Ridges is the winning pattern!
- pink Kimono Angora gloves -- based on an Ann Budd recipe
- red Alpaca Silk hat for Dulaan (I think)

I would love to have some photos of gorgeous yarn for these projects, but as we are in the thick of the dreaded "wintry mix" here in Philly, the pics are coming out terribly! Instead I will treat you to some formerly finished objects in both red and pink!

Here and There Cables Scarf from Scarf Style
Knit in KnitPicks Alpaca Silk, Cranberry color

I knit this scarf in Fall 2005 for my brother in anticipation of his winter trip to Russia to adopt his daughter. I chose red because my brother is a red person -- who wears red Chuck Taylors to every wedding, and last Christmas he had asked for a red woolen scarf. Also, I loved the idea of having a photo of my red knitted scarf in Red Square! I know I am about 15 years too late for the true Red Scarf=Red/Commie thing, but I liked the parallels, and what a photo op! This scarf was ultimately a tedious knit, as it took me forever to finish, but the finished product is almost mesmerizing to both look at and feel. I chose this super thick, super sumptuous scarf in super-warm alpaca and silk thinking that he's need something very warm in the winter in Sakhalin.

Alas, they still have not gotten the go ahead to travel to Russia to go get her.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Strike the Baby and Kill the Blonde

What a geat title! Part of NPR's pre-Oscar coverage included a book about movie jargon. It made me start to think about the movies about movies I've enjoyed since my love affair with Netflix started.

So, as part of my own pre-Oscar coverage, I give you a short list of interesting movies about movies:
  • The Kid Stays in the Picture
  • A Decade Under the Influence
  • The Spaghetti West
  • Baadaasssss!
  • Overnight
  • American Movie

Oh yeah, and CAVN is rocking on. Something will certainly go wrong soon, since I'm moving so fast.