A little bit of writing, a little bit of knitting...

Friday, December 30, 2005

A Few Days' Recovery

We made it back from Toronto yesterday without incident. While we were there, we had Paul's friend Jay take a look at the car. Jay was able to take a hammer to the door (yes, he's a professional) and fix it enough for us to be able to get the driver's door open and closed (though we still have to open it from the inside). We could also get the window open, which was good for driving through customs at the border. Actually, the whole thing helped us at customs. The customs agent, who had been taking an awful lot of time questioning the people in front of us, asked us a couple of questions and then asked, "Did that happen over Christmas?" We discussed what had happened and how we couldn't get it into a shop in Canada in time, and he felt bad for us and let us go without too much hassle.

Our stay in Toronto was short but sweet. On Tuesday, we hung out with our friends Jay and Lisa before our Big Family Christmas Event. I was pretty darn excited about giving out my handmade gifts.

The first was Ed's alien scarf:

After he opened it, we spent some time playing with it and studying the pattern, and it turned into the joke of the year. Whenever someone opened another present, our BIL Paul would add, "If you look at it from an angle, you'll see aliens!"

The next morning, when I got up, I found Ed wandering around the house wearing his scarf, so I'm guessing he liked it. :) I'm glad. I thought of him the very first time I saw the pattern, way back in the day, and it was so much fun to knit!

After Ed's scarf came Suzanne's socks:

Look! They fit! I was so relieved! After two full weeks of panic (which, I told Suzanne, she could read about here -- hi Suzanne!), it would have seriously sucked if they hadn't fit. But the graph paper foot-tracing that I've been carrying around for the past year served me well.

Every once in a while, I pick up my own socks (the ones I started back in May) and do a round or two. I don't want to burn out again, but I really do want to finish the socks. I really liked Suzanne's, and it would be nice to finally have a pair of my own. So this year's goal is have my own socks finished by next Christmas. :)

On Wednesday morning, I got up and headed to Romni with my MIL and SIL J9. Unfortunately, we'd missed the after-Christmas blow-out sale (GRR!!), but it was fun to wander anyway. I was looking for some discontinued yarn for Barbara, but they didn't seem to have it. And I still haven't found anything for my Clapotis that's prettier than the one I saw in KnitPicks' Andean Silk Twist (in Pumpkin Patch), so I may just have to place another order. Believe it or not, I came really close to buying some sock yarn. But I held back.

Actually, this was my friendliest visit ever to Romni. In fact, I felt positively fawned over. I had my felted clutch with me, and that caused quite a stir among the staff, as did the long scarf that I made out of scraps that I pulled out of the free bin at the Classic Elite store back in Massachusetts.

In the afternoon, we went to visit our friends Dan and Amber, who are expecting their first child in April. I brought along the Big Bad Baby Blanket that I made for them. They loved it. :) Before I left, I promised to start on a sweater soon...

Yesterday, in the car, I finished my Kid Silk Night scarf. I used the pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, but I almost doubled the length. It still has to be blocked, but here's how it turned out:

And, while I'm posting pictures, here's the picture of the latest tote, pre-felting:

And then one more. Here's this year's collection of knitting gifts:

Paul got me the swift (yea!) and the accessories. Julie got me the Stitch 'n' Bitch books. She figured it would be nice for me to have them so I could stop taking them out of the library. And the alpaca is from Barbara, who even found the pattern for me. It's meant for the Anthropologie-inspired capelet from Craftster. I can't wait to get started!

Now we're off to run some errands. Paul just got back from getting estimates for the car. If we didn't have insurance, it would have come to $4,000. Ugh! And it's so bad that it's going to take 2-3 weeks. We'll be dropping the car off before we leave, but they most likely won't be able to start working on it until the 9th. So it'll be almost February before I have a car again. Not fun...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Ho Ho...OH NO!

We had a couple of very nice days of Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we opened our presents. I got plenty of DVDs to keep me laughing for a while. And I got the swift that I've been not-so-subtly hinting about for...six months now. :) While we hung out and enjoyed the whole holiday-spirit thing, Paul did some of the puzzles in his new Sudoku book (I tried...and then I got a headache, so I gave up and went back to knitting) and I finished knitting the felted tote (pictures to come...but I'm not on my own computer right now). Yesterday, we ate more food than necessary. Then we watched two of our new DVDs. And I started (and almost finished) a hat. It was such a Merry Christmas.

Then it all went south when we headed north.

We left right on time this morning for our drive to the in-laws' in Toronto. We were well over half-way, and I was cheerily finishing my hat when Paul made some sort of exclamation and I looked up to see a car flying sideways across the highway in front of us. This is not something you want to see. Paul swerved as much as he could, but it wasn't enough to prevent us from being broadsided. It's not good.

My poor little car!

So while Paul got out of the car to figure out the details, I shakily finished my hat. I was going to stop working on it, but I figured it was the only thing keeping me from crying and generally having a nervous breakdown.

Fortunately, Paul and I are okay. The car, however, isn't doing so well. You can't open the driver's door from the outside, and you can't really get it shut without a bit of a draft coming in. I hear it's bad, though I still refuse to look at it. I don't want to see it.

As the officer on the scene walked by the car, he was highly amused to find me sitting there knitting, but Paul assured him that it was the only thing keeping me calm. He was right.

Anyway...we made it to the in-laws'. We're working on figuring out what to do with the car. I'm hoping we can get it fixed in a hurry this week because it would be seriously uncomfortable to drive it all the way home like this. But we'll see. Oh...and the hat? It's too big. It's a gauge issue that's too complex to get into right now. But actually, it's nice and warm, and it covers my ears, so I may keep it.

And after I finished the hat, you'll never believe what I did. I grabbed whatever was close by -- and that happened to be the sock I set down back in September. Maybe I'll finish it someday after all...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas to All...

...and to all a good knit!


Yesterday we met the Greens for lunch -- then we went back to their place (AKA Cookiepalooza) to hang out and decorate some cookies:

Paul showed us all up with his ever-artistic cookie designs:

He's such a show-off.

We came home and went for a walk (since it was well over 40), and then we spent the rest of the night chillin'. We watched You Only Live Twice -- part of the 007 marathon on one of the cable channels. While we watched TV, I ran into a felted bag dilemma. I was pretty sure I was going to run out of yarn before finishing the straps on the bag. So I had to decide whether to

a) continue and cross my fingers. If I ran out, I'd just have to order some more from KnitPicks and finish later.

or b)rip out strap #1 and redo it with one strand of the KnitPicks yarn and one strand of another grey that I had on-hand.

While I was trying to decide, I knit up a Christmas ornament. Then I decided to go with option b. I've finished the first strap, and I think it'll look just fine once it's felted. Phew.

Now it's time for me to get back to baking some cookies and a little general house clean-up (since Knitting Central has gotten a little out of control).

I wish all of you and yours a wonderful Christmas. May you find all kinds of goodies under your tree this year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is It Christmas Yet?

Because I'm beat, and I could use a vacation.

Paul was supposed to take the day off today, but he had so much to do that he went in anyway. I know the feeling. I'm frantically trying to cross stuff off my to-do list. But it'll all be worth it. After today, we've got three days of relaxing and baking cookies and eating and not worrying about work. Ahhhh...

Yesterday, to retreat from the insanity for a while, Barbara and I went yarn shopping. Somehow, that always makes us feel better. We perused the selection at one of our LYSs, and then we went to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. Afterwards, we continued on to Joann's. It was heavenly. Oddly enough, however, we kept bringing our knitting along with us, but we never had a chance to sit down and knit. We did, however, have plenty of time to relax. And we needed that.

I'm happy to announce that my latest tote is almost finished. See?

I just have a few rounds to go, followed by the straps, and then I'm done. Then I can knit all for me. Me, me, me!

Or maybe I'll start working on gifts for next Christmas...

Just kidding.

Oh...and thanks to Laura, who pointed out that KnitSimple does have a web site now. It's KnitSimpleMag.com. Unfortunately, I've been unable to find a good picture of Nicky Epstein's fun fur bear rugs. The girls in the group went nuts over them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Vote for Travel Project #1!

Okay...I need help. I've decided that I'm going to work on a lace shawl while I'm in Delft. But which one? There are two that I've been dying to start. So I need you to help me decide.

Will it be Birch from Rowan 34 (scroll down to see it)? I have plenty of KnitPicks Shadow in Jewels.

Or will it be the Aspen Throw from Jaeger JB35? This one will be done in Austermann Pharao in Mystic Beige.

Vote now!

Which lace shawl should be named Travel Project #1?

Neither -- what's with the lace shawls?
What the heck -- bring both.

(You'll also see how other users have answered.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Knitterly Gifts and Lessons Learned

Yesterday was the last kids' knitting session of the year -- thus, we had our Christmas party. Or at least there were gifts. If I were organized, I would have brought cookies. Or cupcakes. But I didn't. I did, however, bring gifts. I got each of the girls a little package filled with those critical little things for knitters: a little book of patterns, a pen and a little notebook, mini scissors, stitch markers (handmade by Paul), and some little zipper pouches to keep them all in. All the little things kept the girls occupied for quite some time.

Here's what I got:

E and her grandmother brought the super-cool candy cane needles -- which I think I may have to break in very, very soon -- and the chocolate. There was more in that bag, but it's physically impossible to take a picture of chocolate without sampling some. And it is definitely tasty.

H made each of us our very own book of patterns. It doesn't show up the best in the picture, but I can't tell you how sweet that gift was. It's not every day that someone gives you a hand-made gift, made especially for you (unless, of course, you happen to be related to a knitter). It's sure to go in a place of honor on my knitting-bookshelf.

I absolutely love my girls. I actually look forward to Monday afternoons, thanks to them. Of course, I think Paul dreads Mondays because I'm always a little more giggly on Monday nights. The girls tend to give me a serious case of the giggles. I can't help it.

Anyway, girls, if you're reading this, thank you. You're awesome.

We also learned a few lessons yesterday:

1) Knitting needles can possibly inflict great pain. We had a little needle mishap yesterday. C was bending over, looking for one of her three needles that she's using for her scarf (yeah, I don't quite get the three-needle thing, either -- though I think it has something to do with losing one and buying a new pair) when one of them jumped up and bit her on the arm. I still have no idea what happened, but apparently, if given enough force, knitting needles can break right through the skin. It was all very strange, but it might be a good thing to keep in mind in the future. I was always taught that, when walking to your car in the dark, it's a good idea to keep your keys in your hand, positioned between your fingers -- just in case. But from now on, I think I may just keep a knitting needle handy. The straight, metal kind.

H also learned a few lessons. A couple of weeks ago, she started a hat from Hip Knit Hats. I told her that if she could finish the ribbed part (which was a little scary to begin with, since she just learned to purl a few weeks ago), I'd help her finish the top. So she brought it in this week, ready to finish. I talked her through each round, through the k2togs and p2togs. I even showed her how to knit in the round on two circs. And then, we sewed everything up, and here it is:

She was *so excited* -- and I was so proud of her for whipping out that hat in a couple of weeks. I think this may have been just what she needed to get her confidence back after that terrible poncho project, which took her about six months of agony. She learned some new things along the way, and she ended up with a super-cool hat (though H, who hates having her picture taken, told me that this picture makes her look like she's about to rob the store).

As for me, I'm still working away on the tote. I figure a good couple of days of knitting, and it should be done. More importantly, though, I'm starting to put together my travel knitting list. I'm going to do a hat from the Yarn Girls' latest book (review coming next week). I might even finish my socks. I need a scarf for myself, and I might do some felted clogs. After all, *everybody's* doing it. And I have a couple of shawl patterns in mind. Do you think that will keep me occupied for the next two weeks?

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Final Stretch...

Things are getting down to the wire in terms of Christmas knitting. Fortunately, I've finished the urgent stuff. I have one little project to finish before heading out to the in-laws on Monday, but that shouldn't take more than an hour and a half. I'm feeling good.

Over the weekend, I finished my little gifty bag for The Socks. Do you think the cute little bag will hide the fact that the gift inside doesn't look quite right until it's actually on one's feet?

If not, this one's out of my hands. There's nothing else I can do about it. I tried, darnit.

In other gift-knitting news. I got back to work on my sister-in-law's tote bag. It's going to be another Sentimental Stripes Tote. On Saturday, I exchanged notes with Paul, and we agreed on the best stripe pattern. Then I got to work. The stripes represent all the birthdays in the family, as well as their anniversary -- and I think it's going to turn out to be pretty cool. I'm especially excited about the blues, which I dyed myself.

Fortunately, there's no rush on this one. It doesn't have to be done until January 19th. Plenty of time. And, considering I'm already half-way through the stripes, which I just started this weekend, I should be done in no time.

In travel news, we booked our flights to Delft this weekend -- and we'll be leaving two weeks from tomorrow. My greatest concern now is trying to decide which projects to work on while I'm gone. So here's my question: what's your favorite project to work on while traveling?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Recovery Time

After two weeks of working on The Socks, I have to admit that I was pretty burned out. So I worked on nice brainless stuff yesterday. I ripped out two fabulous Barbie ponchos -- one summery pink one and one fuzzier blue one (as modeled by my monkey, who may need a poncho of his own).

I also started working on a nice gifty bag. I figure the cutesy purple and white bag will hide the fact that the socks inside look like mutant socks.

I know I need to continue working on my sister-in-law's felted tote at some point. But last night, I just needed some time off.

Besides the knitting stuff, yesterday was pretty crazy. For one thing, the games editor over at NightsAndWeekends.com decided that she didn't want to be the games editor anymore. I went into a panic, since the last thing I need is to take on more editorial responsibilities on top of the ones I already have. But, as it turns out, we did a little flip-flopping, and she's going to take over movies instead.

But that still leaves me with a shortage on the games side. Is anyone out there interested in board games? I need some new reviewers -- and possibly a new editor. It isn't a paid position, I'm afraid, but it's great exposure -- and we occasionally get some pretty cool free games to review. If you love board games and you'd like to review them from time to time, let me know.

In other news, the trip to Delft is on. Paul's new boss might be bringing his girlfriend as well, so I might have someone to play tour guide for. I hope she knits. If not, she'll learn. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Sleet...

I am hard core. Today was Sip and Knit day at Caribou. And although Kay and Carol and Barbara all decided to stay away (Kay decided to stay in her jammies all day), Julie and I met, even though it looked like this outside:

(Note: These are actually the good roads. I am, after all, not stupid enough to try to take pictures while driving on ice.)

Julie and I are so hard core that nothing will stop us from getting together to knit. Nosiree Bob! So we got our coffee and sat in our comfy chairs in front of the fire and spent an hour or two just knitting and hanging out.

Here's Julie showing me the real way to make socks -- with nice bulky yarn.

Julie is obviously way smarter than I am.

And here's a picture of the super-cool bike tread shadow-knit scarf that Julie's working on:

And what did I work on, you ask? I pulled out some nice #10 needles (having retired my #2s for a while) and made a poncho for my niece's Barbie (the one I'm giving her for Christmas). In fact, I finished one and started on another. That Barbie is going to be all set for ponchos. I didn't have a lot of yarn for the first one, and I was a little worried that she wouldn't be able to pull it over Barbie's head, but Julie assured me that it would be no problem. "And if it doesn't fit, you can just pop her head off," she told me. Ah, if only it were that easy for people -- then I would have had no problem when I knit that sleeveless top a while back and accidentally made the neck opening too small...

Victory is Mine!

The Sock Wars are over, and I have made it through victoriously. I have finished the socks.

Immediately after sewing in the last end, I spontaneously burst into the Hallelujah Chorus. Then I put the socks on for a picture. After this picture was taken, I did a little dance through the living room.

Things I have learned from the experience:

1) I can actually knit a pair of socks in under two weeks, if I'm really determined, and if I really put my mind to it

2) But not without great pain and mental anguish

All I can say now is that they'd better fit the recipient-in-law, darnit.

Also, in an attempt to make the finished product look prettier, I've decided to knit a little gift bag to put them in. That'll fool 'em, don't you think? So I cast on and did some knitting for an hour. And then, lying in bed, I announced, "I think I'm going to rip that bag out."

"What for?" Paul replied, obviously perplexed, the poor guy.

"It's too tight. I need to use bigger needles."

And with that, I fell asleep, happily dreaming about my friend Kay, the self-proclaimed Sock Princess (who then had me design this stuff for her), who (in my dream) bought so many knitting books that her husband (who, incidentally, I've never actually met) was angry. And then we all threw Kay a surprise party. And there were no socks involved.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New (and Wonderful) Discovery

My friend and fellow self-proclaimed Free Pattern Ho just sent me a link to this site. I have no idea how neither Julie nor I discovered it earlier. There are 750 free patterns in the database -- all translated into English. It's a free pattern jackpot! Just a warning -- unless you're prepared to spend several hours perusing the fabulous patterns, you might want to save the link and visit later...

Any Dutch Knitters Out There?

I've got a decision to make -- and I have to make it today. My darling husband has been scheduled to attend business meetings in Delft in a couple of weeks, and I might be able to go along with him. But I have to decide if I'm going today. There is a catch, of course. Since he'll be in meetings for two days straight, I probably won't see him for a couple of days. So I've contacted a friend or two in Delft, but I was thinking that it might be fun to have a little Dutch SnB while I'm there. So if anyone out there lives near Delft, let me know! I promise not to talk about socks.

I'm actually pretty excited to have the chance to go back to Delft. Since Paul started working with his company (which has its headquarters in Delft), he's been there several times -- and I've gotten to go along three times. So far, I've spent seven weeks there -- so it's become like my second home. We have friends there. I know the city like the back of my hand (so much so that on our second visit, I played tour guide to a Dutch guy who was in town working on an online tourists' guide). And I love the food. LOVE it. All I need is pannenkoeken with ham and cheese (I still haven't been able to duplicate that one at home), some poffertjes, and some fresh stroopwafels, and I'm in heaven. I've always been there in the summer, so I spend my days sitting in the Beestenmarkt with my laptop. I'm not sure what I'll do now that it's winter (which means it rains pretty much every day -- or so Weather.com tells me), but I really don't care, either. I'll bring my laptop. I'll get caught up on my reading. I'll knit. I'll go out for dinner with my pal Annemiek (and perhaps go shopping at H&M, which has opened a store in Delft since the last time I was there)...

So anyway...enough about Delft. If you're around there, let me know. We'll get a beer and knit things that aren't socks.

Speaking of which, I'm not posting a picture of the socks today because, frankly, I'm sick of them. But I'll post one tomorrow -- after I finish them. I've already told Paul that the only thing I care about today is finishing the socks. I'm about to begin the toe decreases now, so it'll be a snap to finish them tonight. And once I do, there will be great rejoicing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sock Wars: Day 13

Are you sick of socks yet? If so, trust me on this one -- you're not alone. I'm getting to the point where it's almost painful to even wear socks. The thought of socks makes me cringe. I just want to work on a nice vest. Or a bag. Or even those cute little mini sweaters that Julie is making to hang on her tree. So I promise I'm working as quickly as I can, trying to end the pain and suffering that you and I have had to endure throughout this long socky experience.

But I'm getting there:

The last time I measured, I had 7 inches of foot (which, if I were Dave Barry, I would tell you sounds like a good name for a band). I need just one more little inch until I start doing toe decreases. So believe it or not, faithful blog reader, I am almost done. And when I'm done, I promise to work on something less excruciating.

So I know what you're thinking. I know you're looking at that picture, thinking, Does she not notice that those socks just don't look right? Oh, I've noticed, alright. They look too skinny and too long. I have no clue why, other than the fact that they're ribbed, so they stretch. Yesterday, while I was knitting with the girls, Evelyn proved how much they stretch by pulling them out as wide as they would go, much to my horror. But they shrunk back down to their tiny size again. No harm, no foul. Of course, they're not ribbed lengthwise, too, which makes it look like the recipient-in-law's feet are ginormous, which they're not, really. They're a little bigger than mine, but hey, we're Dutch. We're not all dainty and petite. So sue us.

The dilemma here is trying to package them to make them look decent. Let's face it here. Just lying around, flopping under the Christmas tree, they're not pretty socks. But they look good on, and that's what matters. But, at the same time, I don't want the poor recipient-in-law to open her much-anticipated gift, only to look at me and say, "What were you on when you made these things?" Then again, our goal for the last six Christmases has been to get each other "fun" socks. Ugly socks can be fun, right?

Maybe, if I stuff them and make them look like there are real feet inside the socks, it'll make them look less ridiculous. I'm all about the marketing here, people. I've got to find the right packaging that will make the socks look good. Back when I was in advertising, I had to write all kinds of BS to make all kinds of worthless products seem crucial for human survival. If I could do that, I've got to be able to successfully market a pair of socks...

So...in other news, while Paul did the responsible thing last night and went to give blood, I did something that I was pretty sure would not make me either (a) gag or (b) pass out. I went shopping. In fact, I finished all of my shopping for Paul, and that makes me feel special, so don't ask me how I'm doing on everyone else. And don't, whatever you do, mention socks. At this point in December, I could snap at any time.

Anyway...after finishing shopping for Paul (and only going over budget a little bit), I finished shopping for my girlies. And since my girlies could very well be reading this right now, I won't tell you what I got. Next week is the last Monday before Christmas, so I'll be sure to take pictures of our little knitterly Christmas party. After that, I went home and wrapped Paul's presents and put them under the tree and felt smug for a few minutes before I went back to knitting The Sock...

Weekend Knitting Review Published

Head over to NightsAndWeekends.com to read my review of Melanie Falick's Weekend Knitting. It's not a new knitting book, but it's one of my favorites. If you don't already have it, put it on your Christmas list...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sock Wars: Day 12

I don't want to sound over-confident or anything -- and I definitely don't want to jinx it -- but I'm starting to think that I'm going to have these socks finished in time...

I'm amazed by the progress I've made on Sock #2. It's going even faster than the first one (probably because I really, really, really want to finish it so I can work on something else). I started it on Friday night, and I've already turned the heel, picked up the gusset stitches, and did all of my gusset decreases. I just have the rest of the foot to go.

Of course, it might help that we collapsed yesterday after about an hour of fighting over parking spaces and elbowing fellow shoppers in an attempt to pick up some holiday gifts for Paul's employees. Instead of working on getting our basement ready for guests, as we'd planned, we made some corn chowder, opened a bottle of wine, and watched The Fellowship of the Ring. That gave me an extra three hours of knitting time.

Mind you, it hasn't exactly been all fun and games. On Friday, I ran into yet another knot. This time, though, since I knew I'd have enough yarn left over, I took the time to unwind the ball of yarn and start knitting at the right place in the stripe pattern. Call me anal, but I feel much better about it.

I have to say that I'm getting pretty sick of these stupid socks. I may talk big about socks, claiming that I'm going to finish my own pair of socks once I finish these. I may even claim that I'm going to knit Paul a pair of socks -- and another pair for myself. But once I finish these, you can rest assured that I'm going to give my #2 needles a bit of a vacation. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I haven't worked on anything but these socks since last Thursday -- when, typically, I'm working on about 36 projects at once. This whole last-minute Christmas present pressure has been a nightmare for my Knitting ADD. And then, to make things even worse, I keep thinking of other stuff that I want to make. On Friday, when Julie and I were at the mall, I noticed the most intriguing vest -- and I've already sketched out the pattern and bought some yarn. And then there's the cool fishy shadow-knit pattern that Paul designed. I've already bought the yarn for that, too -- and I'm dying to try it out, but I can't.

Stupid socks.

On Saturday, when I wasn't knitting a sock or trying to buy Christmas presents, we started working on organizing our basement. It's a really nice basement, actually -- a nice, big family room with a half-bath. We have great dreams for our basement -- guest room, bar, theater, gym, knitting studio...you name it. But, in the year that we've lived here, it's mostly been a place to toss stuff for which we have no other place. Unpacked boxes (which, we discovered, were mostly filled with worthless junk). A whole chest full of sweaters that I occasionally pick through when I'm looking for something to wear. And all of my shoes. And, occasionally, we set up an air mattress for guests. Last week, we got a nice storage unit, which now contains all of our off-season clothes (which mean we could empty out another box or two) and my shoes, which are only there temporarily. Things are starting to look a little more organized. We even put a few boxes that we'd given up on unpacking on the top of the unit, to make it look like they're boxes of really important stuff that we really want to keep.

At some point, that part of our newly-somewhat-organized corner of our basement will also be home to my yarn and other various knitting supplies. So, while I was thinking about organizing, I opened my yarn closet to ponder all the ways in which I can organize it in the coming year.

Then I got a headache and closed it again.

I can only be just so productive in one weekend.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Sock Wars: Day 9

Ta-Da! Posted by Picasa

See that? It's A FINISHED SOCK! WOOHOO! I just hope the recipient-in-law doesn't have really wide feet, or I may have to try again -- because they're a bit snug. Not snug, exactly, but there isn't a lot of room for expansion, either. Personally, I think they're cozy -- so if they don't fit her, they'll definitely fit me. :)

Now I just have to get that second one started. I'll start that tonight.

Do you see what's under the sock? That would be my copy of The Yarn Girls' Guide to Beyond the Basics, which I'll be reviewing soon. It was at the door when I got home from knitting with Julie. I haven't even looked at it yet, but I can't wait to see what's inside...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Eagerly-anticipated magazines...

I was in Barnes & Noble today, browsing for a bit before treating myself to a non-fat decaf mocha with no whipped cream (sheesh...am I getting old or what?), when I spotted two new magazines that I'd been eagerly awaiting. First was the new Interweave. I was flipping through, drooling over the new patterns, when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the new KnitSimple. I read about it months ago -- in the letter that Vogue Knitting had sent to all the stores that carried Family Circle Easy Knitting. Apparently, Vogue used to work with FC to put out FCEK. But they've since split, and now Vogue is putting out an easy-knitting magazine of their own. Oddly, there's no web site -- and no mention on the Vogue Knitting site. Anyway...I almost shoved a poor old man who had been perusing magazines for deer hunters or antiques collectors or something like that to get at the magazine, but I grabbed it, sat my butt down on the floor, and did a quick flip-through. On my quick first pass, I didn't see anything I had to have right that minute, so -- believe it or not -- I refrained from purchasing a copy (though I can't say I won't run out and buy it tomorrow -- or pick up a copy when I'm at the store on Monday). But I did swipe the subscription card from inside the magazine to bring home and staple to my Christmas list.

Has anyone picked up a copy yet? Thumbs up, or thumbs down?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sock Wars: Day 7

Those pictures of the sock on the couch were getting a bit boring, don't you think? I figured I'd spice up my sock picture a bit today by posing it with the Christmas tree:

Still-life sock with Christmas tree Posted by Picasa

Last night was movie night. And since Paul and I have this little agreement that I won't knit in movie theaters in his presence (actually, it embarrasses him if I do it even when he's not with me, but there's nothing he can do about that), I didn't get a lot of knitting done yesterday. I'm only a couple of inches past the end of the gusset decreases. But, just to make myself feel better, I did some measuring. The end user of this particular sock has a foot measuring around 10 inches, from heel to big toe. So far, the sock is about five inches, heel to needles. So I'm getting there. And since Paul has a hockey game tonight (his team ended in fifth place for the season, so they made the playoffs), I should have plenty of time to work on it -- at least until my fingers get too numb to work with tiny metal needles. Then maybe I'll switch to working on the felted tote, which I've got on less frigid, less tiny Denise size 10.5s...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's good to share with your friends...

It's good to have friends, isn't it? Friends are the people who laugh with you and cry with you and give you excuses to drink lots of coffee and eat fattening food. Friends share secrets and wonderful household tips and cheesecake. My friends and I also tend to share our obsessions.

Take lace, for instance. This summer, my friend Julie decided that she was obsessed with lace. And suddenly I was obsessed with lace, too. The result was this (that's me on the right in the lace shrug).

Now it's my turn. Shortly after starting my Alien Scarf, I decided that I was obsessed with shadow knitting. And I've clearly shared my obsession with Julie.

I went to the store yesterday to knit with the girlies, and there was Julie, picking out some good shadow-knitting yarn for a scarf for her husband. Roger is a hard-core biker (as in mountain biker -- though he used to be the other kind, too). He's so hard-core, in fact, that he has a bike tread tattooed on his calf. While I was working on the Alien, I told Julie that I was getting my dear husband to design shadow knitting patterns for me -- so she commissioned him to do a bike tread pattern. He worked on it for a couple of days, and now Julie's got it. She's going to do it with a brown background (for dirt) and a black design (for the tire). Is that cool, or what? I'm so excited to see how it turns out!

And I'm glad I could share my obsession with my friend.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sock Wars: Day 5

Day Five:
Progress Made: Finished heel and gusset of first sock. No kidding!
Vodka Tonics Consumed: Three -- until we ran out of tonic. I was then forced to move to chardonnay
Pieces of Fudge Eaten: Let's not go there.

Day 5 Posted by Picasa

I know. I'm just as stunned as you are. Since Thursday, I've cranked out a very large portion of a sock. Not that it was easy or anything. I had some major incidents on Saturday, while I was working on the heel flap. It involved dropped stitches, which I caught with a spare nail that Paul happened to have in his pocket, and many unsavory words. Then there was the yarn splitting (or at least I think that's what happened), which resulted in an extra stitch that took an eternity to find. Also on Saturday night: I was knitting along in my pretty stripe pattern when I came to a knot. A KNOT! It ruined the pattern, but it's not something that you notice right away, thank goodness. And there was no way in heck I was going to waste all that yarn fixing it. I would have run out. Grrr!

Needless to say, I almost ditched the whole sock thing on Saturday. But I got back on that horse and turned the heel yesterday. Go me! In fact, I must say that it's the best-looking sock I've done so far. I just have to keep the momentum up long enough to finish this one and the next one...

So while I was sitting there last night, knitting so frantically that I was most likely panting a little bit, Paul looked at me and said, "So when are you going to finish *my* socks?" Considering I still haven't finished my own pair of socks, which I believe I started in June, I'm guessing his will be finished in 2010.

Mom's Bath Mitt Pattern

My mother-in-law loves the European-style bath mitts. Whenever my husband and I are overseas, we pick up a couple for her. Though they're typically made out of terrycloth, like your standard wash cloth, I thought I'd try making the knit version. They're quick and easy to knit, and if you throw in a pretty scented soap, it makes a great gift. There's still time -- you can knit up a few before your first holiday party...

Mom's Bath Mitt Posted by Picasa

Worsted weight cotton yarn. I used a one-pound cone, but if you’re using Lily Sugar ‘n Cream, you’ll probably need two skeins

Size 5 (3.75mm) needles, either DPNs or 2 circs

Small crochet hook

6 ¼” wide by 8 ¼” long

22 sts and 30 rows = 4” on #5 (3.75mm) needles
Note: Mitt was knit using smaller needles than recommended on the band to give the mitt a heavier, tighter fabric than usual

CO 71, leaving a 18” tail
Join and work in the round, placing a marker for the beginning of the round

Work in seed stitch for 4 rounds:
Round 1: k1, *(p1, k1); repeat from * to the end of the round
Round 2: p1, *(k1, p1); repeat from * to the end of the round
Rounds 3&4: repeat rounds 1&2

Begin working in st. st. (knit every round). Continue until piece measures 8 inches.

Final round: knit until 2 sts. remain, k2tog (to end with an even number of sts.)

Arrange remaining sts. on 2 needles so there are 35 sts. on each needle. Graft together using Kitchener st.

To create the loop:
Using the tail from your CO edge, work a crochet chain for 4”. Sew end of chain to the inside of the mitt.

Weave in all ends.

The New Knitty is Up! The New Knitty is Up!

I've got all kinds of fun entries planned for today -- but I was just trying to get a little work done before I started playing with my blog, when I made the mistake of checking my email again... And there is was. The email that the New Knitty was up! I must say that this one's a fun one. I've already seen all kinds of stuff that I must have. But alas, I have a pair of socks and a felted tote to finish first -- but more about that later. Go look at Knitty -- I'll blog more once I get some work done.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Can I do it? Will I try anyway?

I went to the yarn store yesterday, where I was relieved to discover that I'm not the only one who's decided to do the impossible before Christmas. In fact, I might not even be as bad as Kara, who's decided to knit approximately 300 scarves by Christmas.

I just have this:

HELP!! Posted by Picasa

At the top, you'll see my sister-in-law's first sock. I started it yesterday. With 26 days to go until I have to give it and its mate to her. I was going to do both socks at the same time, but everything was such a mess that it just made me mad, and I gave up. It's hard to mess with two needles and two skeins and all the other hassles while you're drinking a vodka tonic. And since I intend to keep myself fueled on vodka tonics from now until Christmas, I'm doing the socks the way I'm used to. I'll learn new stuff after Christmas.

At the bottom, you'll see what's eventually supposed to be a Sentimental Stripes Tote for my other sister-in-law. I've got a good start, at least. And felted projects are a breeze -- even if they're big felted projects. The only problem is that I don't have enough yarn. I was going to do the grey with stripes in blue (which I hand-dyed myself), but I think I'll need another 200 yards or so. What color should I go with? Something black, maybe? Another blue?

Of course, this isn't all of it. I'd like to make something for myself to wear to the holiday festivities. But that's on hold. I also have a smaller bag that I'm supposed to make. And there were a couple of other scarves. Some little things. But I may have to let those slide. The socks are key right now. Gotta work on the socks. It would, after all, be rather cruel to give my sister-in-law (who has two feet) just one sock for Christmas...

Then again, if I give her the one hand-knit sock and one other sock from my sock drawer (the one that's been sitting there by itself, despite the fact that our dryer ate its mate months ago), maybe she wouldn't notice...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

December arrives -- and the last-minute rush begins

It's the first of December. Have I done any Christmas shopping? Not really. Have I even thought about Christmas cards? Nope. But I have been knitting! Last night, I stopped at the library, where I ended up picking up a giant stack of knitting books. The woman who checked me out found it somewhat amusing. She told me that I was supposed to start my Christmas knitting a month ago.

"I did!" I told her. I didn't want to tell her that I actually started some of my Christmas gifts in January. But I'm still working on them... Yesterday, I started the felted tote for my sister-in-law. I'm winging it on the yarn right now, but I'm thinking I may have to run out to get one more skein. And I think I may need to start those socks (!!!) for my other sister-in-law. I'm going to try not to hyperventilate.

In other beginning-of-the-month news, totally not knitting related, I set up a new contest on NightsAndWeekends.com today. This month, we're giving away three CDs and...a Sony Walkman Bean (perfect for listening to books/music while knitting)! It's all pretty exciting, so I wanted to share. You can check out the rules and the details and stuff at http://www.nightsandweekends.com/join/.

Today I get to escape for a while mid-day to go knit with the girls. It's been one heck of a crazy week, and I haven't even had time to go out and get myself a cup of coffee, so it's a much needed break. We've decided to meet for coffee every other week now, and I love it -- it always gives me something to look forward to...

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