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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Thanks so much for all of your comments (both on the blog and in person) about the sweater. I've got sweaters on the brain now (along with lace and shadow knitting), and I've been eyeing the cotton I bought for a cardi last summer -- and I think it's about time to get started.

Yesterday, however, I stuck with nice brainless projects -- to help me wind down a bit from the sweater insanity. Not only that, but yesterday was Monday, i.e. Kids' Knitting Day. Mondays are not for projects that require any thought. And I have a fabulous finished Squishy Scarf to show for it.

This week, there were four girls. The first to arrive was Miss A, who brought her short attention span with her. Miss S arrived shortly thereafter, in time for the beginning of Miss A's total meltdown. A couple of weeks ago, Miss A came in with her slightly imperfect scarf. She decided she hated it, so she ripped it out and started it over as a scarf for a doll. This week, she decided that her yarn (a pretty green with a shiny variegated strand running through it) was *boring*. And she was sick of her scarf. She's been knitting for, oh, a month, and she wants to make a sweater. She never wants to knit a scarf, ever again. She also does not want to knit wrist warmers or a headband or any of those other things that we all make when we're just beginning. She wants to knit a sweater. The problem, of course, is that she's still at the point where, about every other row, she screams, "I messed up!" and shoves her needles in my face, demanding that I fix it. How on earth am I supposed to get her to purl and do increases and decreases? She was ticked off enough that I expected her to do her own bind-off. Not only that, but she can't even stay interested long enough to finish a *doll scarf*.

Miss S quietly, with a little smirk, suggested variegated yarn.

Miss H thinks it's funny -- because Miss A is a lot like she was last summer. I suppose that should make me feel better -- because Miss H has come a long way since then, and she's pretty much self-sufficient now. But man, Miss A is exhausting. And, just for the record, Miss H never screamed at me.

But once again, it was an entertaining day with the girls. I'm always amused by the topics they discuss on any given week. This week, it ranged from savings accounts to Miss H's rather complicated explanation of how it would be possible to be older than her mother. The rest of the girls weren't buying it.

One thing, however, I know for sure: next week, I'm showing up early, and I'm hiding anything in the store that contains sugar.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Photo Finish

It's been a challenging couple of weeks for Team Party Crasher / Team ADD. The thought of sitting down and working on just one project -- and finishing it on a deadline -- brought back memories of The Great Sock Fiasco from December. And I wasn't exactly faithful to my project. But I was determined, dangit, and I did it. And I even went to the outlet mall yesterday instead of gluing my butt to the couch and solidifying my chances of finishing. Go me!

Just to prove that the Olympics were still on after I finished, I got the Olympic logo in the picture:

I finished weaving in all the ends during the closing ceremonies. She ain't perfect (and please don't look at the way I sewed up those underarm holes), but I love her. And I impressed the snot out of Paul, who, in the not-so-back of his mind, thinks I'm nuts.

I was so excited that I kept the sweater on while I frantically danced around the living room to Ricky Martin:

I do love my Ricky Martin. I spun around the room and shook my bon-bon until I fell down. No picture of that, thanks.

Now, not only do I have a sweater to show for the last 15 days, but I can also look forward to not having to hear another Bob Costas interview for two more years. ("So it looks like Team USA has thoroughly screwed up again. We'll have an interview in a matter of minutes with the latest American screw-up to ask him why he sucks so much -- and how it feels to be totally humiliated on world-wide TV. You won't want to miss it.")

So the next question is: now what? I've been working on almost nothing but this sweater for two weeks. I'm totally unprepared to move on. Do I get to work on some lace? Start that cardi that I've been dying to start? Another baby blanket for my plethora of pregnant friends? Maybe a baby sweater? I just don't know! Ack!

PS - Did you see the new Knitty surprises? I'm totally in love with Starsky.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

New Book Review

My review of Shannon Okey's upcoming book, KnitGrrl2 was published today. Check it out!

Have a great night -- I'll give the full report tomorrow...

Friday, February 24, 2006


Look at our pretty green bathroom!

Paul finished the painting and put all the mirrors and things back in their places last night (except for the painting equipment, all of which is still taking up the kitchen counters). And I love it. It's so much better than the off-white that's everywhere else in the house (except for the master bedroom, which we -- meaning my dad -- immediately painted periwinkle). I'll admit that I was a little nervous that it would come out looking dark, since there aren't any windows in Paul's bathroom, but it actually looks brighter than before. Yea! Now we just have to replace all the blue thingies that we'd had in the bathroom before and (finally!) get new towels.

I was thinking maybe we could hold off on the paint job until May, so it could be my May Project Spectrum assignment. But, as it turns out, Dad and Paul did all the work, so I'm cool with that, too.

And now...in knitting news...I would first like to respond to yesterday's comments. First of all, Ashley, you're a genius. :) Jeanne, you simply must try a top-down. I love it -- because I'm too lazy to sew seams. In fact, I've gone top-down crazy, and I'm going to go out and get myself the top-down calculator CD from KnitPicks so I can make top-downs for everybody. And Heather, keep your fingers crossed, though I doubt if I'll have the sweater done by Monday. I did, however, start the ribbing on Sleeve #1 last night. Not bad at all.

I just talked to Julie and the Sock Princess, who are happily knitting away while I'm stuck at my desk, working my patootie off (I just set up a pretty cool contest at NightsAndWeekends.com, though, and especially if you're a Pink Floyd fan, you might want to check it out). Not that I'm jealous or anything. I really wanted to meet the girls for lunch, but it's just not happenin' today. We are, however, meeting again on Thursday, so that makes me happy. Yea!

And now...I need to knit more lace. Mostly, it's because knitting lace, as I've said before, is like having a crack habit. It's very difficult to quit once you start. But it's also because my sister-in-law is getting married in June, and I absolutely must have a fabulous lace shawl to wear to the wedding. I've noticed that plain strapless dresses are coming out for spring, so I can work with that. Now I just need to come up with a fabulous pattern -- and some yarn in a colorway that won't clash with the bridesmaid dresses (the color of which has still not been revealed to me). (I also need to get some weights and tone up my arms a bit, but we'll not talk about that right now.) I've taken pretty much every single lace book out of the library, and now I need to start choosing. I was thinking about doing Aspen, but I'm afraid that it'll look a little too much like Birch -- and that's no good.

Any suggestions? Has anyone done a gorgeous lace shawl lately that they absolutely love?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Not Good.

I started my day with Aleve and coffee. This, my friends, is not a good sign.

This, however, is good:

I got a lot of work done on my sleeve yesterday. I'm working on reviewing a three-hour documentary, so I worked on the sleeve while I watched part of it yesterday. After dinner, I worked on it while I watched curling (I never thought I'd be so totally hooked on curling). Then I worked on it a little more while I watched Paul play hockey -- despite the fact that it was so cold in the bleachers that my fingers almost froze off.

It was the first game that I'd actually managed to come to this season -- but it was also the first game they had before, oh, 10:30. As it turns out, one of the girlfriends just picked up Knitting for Dummies and taught herself to knit. I offered to help her out if she needs it. One of the wives really wants a tea cozy, too (yep -- a tea cozy) -- so if anyone has a cool tea cozy pattern, let me know.

I had been working away through the game when someone asked if I was working on a sweater. I held it up for display, and there was much amazement. "It actually looks like a sweater," someone told me. "I thought you knit sweaters in all kinds of pieces." Ah, the joy of the top-down raglan. Oh, how I love thee, top-down raglan.

When we got home (Paul's team lost 4-3, though Paul did score a goal, so that's a good thing), I was so excited that I just had to try the thing on. And then I was so excited that I made Paul take a picture. Then he took a shower and I got back to work on my sleeve.

Then again, maybe I should just keep it as it is. Knit a little rib around each arm and call it good. It looks a little Teva Durham this way, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

We Have a Sleeve!

Yesterday, I finished my 3x2 rib and bound off the body -- and then I moved on to the sleeves. There was, however, a slight problem. Before I began, I went running downstairs to my knitting corner, pulled out my circular needle binder, and found that I don't have another #8 circ. I quickly checked the time, to see if JoAnn's would still be open, but we'd been running errands all night, and it was after 9. Ack! Fortunately, the sleeves are big enough at the top that I can knit in the round on my smallest Denise cables (phew!), so I still have time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Weekend with the 'Rents

Mom and Dad were scheduled to head home sometime this morning. Unfortunately, a death in the family (Mom's 91-year-old aunt) sent them home a little early. We did, however, manage to squeeze a lot into the weekend.

They arrived at around 3:30 on Friday, after a long (and boring -- just ask Mom) drive from Michigan. They settled in and took some time to see all the things we'd done to the house since they were last here (last time they were here, we'd only been in the house a few months), and then we headed to Starbucks, where we had coffee while we waited for Paul to get out of work. We had dinner at Hoggy's, which is probably their favorite restaurant around here. I think we've eaten there every time they've visited. We are, after all, a meat-lovin' family.

After we got back, we opened our Christmas presents. I got all kinds of fun things -- like great knitterly thingies and both a T-shirt and a sweatshirt from my alma mater (to go with my Go Knights! scarf). Mom, as always, got a bunch of knitted stuff:

Believe it or not, Mom managed to wear each of her new scarves sometime during the weekend.

The big surprise of the weekend came on Saturday morning, when I got up and wandered into the living room, only to find Mom sitting on the couch, sipping coffee and knitting a scarf.

Now I think I can begin to understand that feeling a mother has when she sees her child starting to walk. I was so proud!

Back when I learned to knit, I spent some time trying to pass the knowledge on to Mom. But then I moved to Massachusetts, and she no longer had her knitting teacher readily available. Add to that the fact that Mom doesn't really sit much, and you may understand why Mom gave up before she really got the hang of it. She's mentioned it from time to time since, but she never picked up the needles again.

Last week, however, she bought some yarn that she saw at Big Lots -- and she brought her needles here with her. On Saturday morning, she pulled out the "How to Knit" section of my Vogue Knitting magazine, and that was all it took to get her going. By the time I got up, she was knitting up a storm. I almost cried, I was so excited.

Here she is, just knitting away:

After ripping out her new scarf a couple of times and starting over, she got to a point where she was comfortable packing up and leaving. And while the guys stayed home to do manly things like cut down trees in the freezing cold, Mom and I took off to go shopping. We went to the mall. We went and bought spices at Penzys. Then I took her to the LYS, where she got to meet Jan and Gerald and Suzanne. I was going to buy her yarn for her next project, but she ended up buying *me* yarn to make *her* something. She's decided that she wants knitted collar-like things to make a comeback, so she's going to start it with this:

Throughout the rest of the weekend, the guys did more puttering around the house (after cutting down the tree, they painted the bathroom -- which, actually, isn't quite done yet). And Mom and I went shopping. We also watched a lot of Olympic hockey -- and parts of the Daytona 500 (in my family, car racing is about the only sport that really exists -- though we prefer the Indy 500). We played a few games. We ate a ton of junk food. And Mom and I hung out and did lots of knitting:

(See? I have my mom's red eyes.)

We spent a lot of time feeling yarn over the weekend. We stopped by Hobby Lobby on Saturday night and discovered a HUGE yarn sale. We couldn't help ourselves. So Mom bought yarn for her next scarf, and I bought stuff that I totally didn't need but really, really wanted. Yesterday, when I went to knit with the girls, I brought my ball of Luscious, which I got for $2 on sale. And it is SO YUMMY! So squishy! I am totally in love. Yea, Hobby Lobby!

It was a quiet day with the girls yesterday. Since it was Presidents' Day, they didn't have school -- so only two faithfuls (Miss H and Miss S) showed up. It was quieter (and less insane) than it has been the last few weeks, but there was still plenty of giggling, so we had a great time. And look how much I got done on my Squishy Scarf!

In Team ADD news, I've almost finished the body of the sweater. Just one more round, and I'm binding off. Then I just have the sleeves. It's not going to be done by Sunday (But really...did I expect it to be? Nope), but it will forever be my Olympic Sweater. And I'll get my Team ADD Gold Medal anyway -- because I tried real hard.

I've already posted a ton of pictures today, so the sweater will get its time in the spotlight again tomorrow...

Friday, February 17, 2006


When I got up this morning, I figured I had plenty of time. My parents are showing up...sometime today. But, being my parents and all, they're not really morning people, so I figured they'd hit the road around 10 or so, and with Dad's driving (he is a senior citizen now, after all, so he's allowed to be a bit pokey) and a nice relaxing stop for lunch, I figured they'd show up around 5ish.

We didn't get our cleaning done last night because we had to do some shopping first. So I still have some floors to wash and laundry to do -- and I still need to clean the kitchen. But I figured I'd get some work done this morning and finish the cleaning later this afternoon.

So I took my shower, amazed by the lack of hair on my head, and got to my desk, where there was an email from Mom, saying they were just loading up the car, and they'd be on their way soon. "We'll see you around 3," she said. THREE!? Since when are my parents up and ready to leave at 8 in the morning? Shouldn't they be sleeping in? I would, were I retired.

Crap. I guess I'd better start the laundry.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New Hair To Go With My New Shawl

This afternoon, I headed on over to sip and stitch with the girls. And guess what -- Miss Carol and the Sock Princess were there! Not only that, but Chandra just happened to be hanging out at Caribou, working on an adorable baby sweater, so she joined in, too. Caffeine and knitting! And friends! Yea! (Okay -- maybe a little too much caffeine, since I'm currently tempted to add a Yea! after every sentence.)

Julie was working on swatching the new lace shawl that she's designing. It's going to be absolutely gorgeous! And I got some time to work on the sweater. In fact, I was so busy knitting that I almost forgot to drink my coffee (then I gulped it, which could account for how crazy and jittery I am right now). It was so much fun that I couldn't believe that the time flew by so fast! Before I knew it, it was already time to leave.

So I packed up my stuff and got in the car, and I had that sudden crazy impulse to cut my hair. It's been *way too long*. I've been trying to find the right time to get a haircut since before Christmas -- and I was just to the point where it didn't matter how much I had to do back home. My hair had to go. Right now. Blame it on the double shot of espresso...

Fortunately, Heather, the wonderful girl who cuts my hair, had a 3:15 opening, so I was all over that. And now I have a new 'do to go with my new Birch.

(If only I'd thought to take this picture *before* I started messing with my hair)

Can there be anything better than a new shawl and a new haircut -- and an afternoon of knitting with friends? I think not.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Who Needs Sleep?

I had the hardest time dragging my butt to bed last night. It could have had something to do with the fact that Paul wasn't feeling too well when he got home from work, and he didn't feel like going out for dinner, so we ended up catching a movie and getting dessert afterwards. Thus, I had a nice sugar buzz from Applebee's Blue Ribbon Brownie (yum!). But it also could have had something to do with the fact that I'm at that exciting it's-actually-looking-like-a-sweater phase.

Last night, after dessert, I finally separated the sleeves from the body. See? I knit up a couple of rounds of the body, and it's starting to look like a little tiny sweater. Now all I have to do is knit around and around and around and around. And if I happen to be brainlessly watching the Olympics at the same time, I could knit around and around all night without realizing what I'm doing. Just watching figure skating and knitting around and around and around. After all, I can't go to bed yet -- I need to watch the last American figure skater of the night, but they're not showing that until after they cover downhill skiing, so I'm just going to have to watch that... But then, after the last American skater, they put the last Canadian skater on, and I'm just going to have to watch him, too...

I might as well just forget about sleeping until the Olympics are over and the sweater's done.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Note to Self:

Don’t even think of having five children. You’ll never make it out with your sanity.

Seriously. I don’t know how people do it. Yesterday, I once again had a whopping five girls show up for the Monday afternoon group. Five girls, between the ages of eight and fourteen—one of whom just had a giant coffee from Starbucks, another of whom is, I can only imagine, naturally hyperactive. And the people at the LYS made the mistake of placing the magic candy jar within easy reach of the whole lot of them.

Right after I showed up, Miss A arrived. She came two weeks ago to learn to knit. She’s actually doing really well, though I’m thinking she’s a bit of a perfectionist, and she was quite upset by the fact that her scarf had a whole in it (and had somehow gained 7 stitches). Not only that, but she decided that the yarn was getting a bit boring, and she wanted to do something else. We ended up ripping out her scarf and starting a smaller one for her doll.

Miss S was the next to arrive. Her scarf is coming along quite nicely, though she’s pretty annoyed by the fact that her yarn splits quite a bit.

Then the crowds rushed in. Miss C and Miss H arrived at the same time, and Miss E the New showed up with her mom right around then as well. And then all heck broke loose. From then until 6, there were constantly at least two conversations going on at the same time (usually three)—and I, of course, was expected to be listening to all of them. Miss H, fueled by coffee, had plenty to talk about, but Miss A was having none of it. As soon as Miss H would open her mouth, Miss A would:

a)start talking about something totally unrelated
b)start talking about something kinda related, only something about her instead
c)announce how much work she’d done on her scarf
d)start freaking out that she’d done something wrong and demand that I fix it right away
e)start freaking out about something that she just saw on my knitting (i.e.: “OMIGOSH! DUDE! WHAT’S THAT THING ON YOUR NEEDLE?”), at which point I would make her take a deep breath (which usually took a few tries) before explaining that it was a point protector

Eventually, I cut Miss A off from the candy jar.

Is it a full moon? Because these kids were out of control. It was fun and highly entertaining, but it was totally out of control. Fortunately, Miss C and Miss S managed to talk amongst themselves for the most part. And Miss E the New stuck to her knitting and just injected some of her dry wit into the conversation from time to time. But after a while, my head started to spin. By 6, I had learned all kinds of interesting things—and I’d heard the words “chicken butt” way more times than I’d ever wanted to.

As the girls left, the evening knitting class arrived. Miss Carol and the Sock Princess (both of whom really, truly are going to be at Caribou this Thursday) were both there, and I wanted to hang out and chat, but I was no longer coherent. The voices in my head were too loud, and I could no longer say anything but “chicken butt.” So I went home. As soon as I got through the door, I requested a gin and tonic. Make that a double.

When I got into the house, there were five roses waiting for me, today being the fifth anniversary of Paul’s nearly disastrous (but really funny in hindsight) proposal. He mixed me a drink, and we threw together a quick-and-easy dinner and watched Olympic curling while we waited for it to cook.

In sweater news, I was hoping to separate the sleeves last night, but I tried it on, and I have a few rounds to go. Maybe I’ll take a little lunch break time to work on it today. Or maybe I’ll work on finishing up the Super Secret Mystery Project, which is still making the girls crazy—because I still won’t tell them what it is.

In the meantime, Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! Treat yourself to a little extra knitting today. And a little chocolate. And some candy hearts. Because you deserve it.

PS - To Michelle, who commented on yesterday's post, and any others who suffer from Knitting ADD: anyone want to join me in the Knitting ADD Olympic Challenge? I'm thinking we'll start around now, and we'll try to finish maybe by the end of March-ish? Anyone with me? Anyone know how to create a good button?

PSS - Oh, yeah...and if you haven't read Maggie Sefton's Knitting Mystery, Needled to Death, be sure to read my review.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Very Long Post About a Busy Weekend

Wow! What a weekend! It started on Friday, when we met our friends Andy and Lisa for some Blue Jackets action. We were planning on getting last-minute cheap seats, but we ended up with Standing Room Only tickets, which really did mean that we had to stand through the whole thing (and fight to see around tall guys). But it was fun nonetheless (even if they did lose to the Avs 4-1).

The big news of the night, however, was that THE BLUE JACKETS SHRUNK! See how tiny they are?

Aren't they just the cutest things? While they were playing their little intermission game, I announced that our children will be hockey players and that I'll be putting them on skates before I put them in shoes. I also told Paul that he'd better keep an eye on me after I give birth -- because if he turns his back, I might just name our firstborn Sergei. (Did I mention that the Harp stand was just behind the Standing Room Only area?) But I'm not kidding. After seeing those cute little hockey players out there, I've decided that I will, in fact, be a crazy hockey mom. After all, it'll give me a great chance to knit during practice. And someday, it'll pay off, when I'm a crazy old NHL mom, screaming at the refs from my seats next to the glass and appearing in Chunky Soup commercials.

So anyway...on Saturday, we didn't do a whole lot. We got our taxes done, though. I always hate the big Tax Appointment -- but I have to go because I have to sign the papers. Back when we lived in Andover, I used to let Paul go and fight it out with the accountant, and then he'd call me when I needed to come and sign the papers. But now I just go along and bring my knitting. I worked on a dishcloth -- because Mom has been hinting, not-quite-so-subtly, that she wants more dishcloths, and she wants 'em now.

After the tax thing, I sat down to watch the Olympics. I set my Super Secret Mystery Project aside, since I'd temporarily lost interest, and I think I inadvertently joined the Knitting Olympics. I started The Sweater on Saturday, thereby becoming Team Party Crasher. Or, perhaps, since I'm making no promises that I'll stay interested in this thing long enough to finish it in the allotted 16 days, I'll be Team ADD.

I didn't start during the opening ceremonies, since, at the time, I was drowning my sorrows in some strange artichoke-crab dip at Gordon Biersch and commenting on the countries' choice of knitwear. But I did start on Saturday, while I was watching Olympic hockey (which, let's face it, isn't really exciting, since the Canadian and US women's teams keep beating their poor opponents by scores of, for instance, 12-0 -- and that's not even fun to watch).

Actually, I watched a lot of the Olympics this weekend, and it may be sacrilegious to say so, but I'm a little bored with it already. I mean, how many times can you watch the luge without getting bored? I say once. I was, however, excited when my man Sven Kramer (whom Paul and I are claiming as our cousin -- he being Dutch, with the last name of Kramer, just like us) took the silver in the very long speed skating event. Go Team Kramer!

Anyway...I finally emailed about the whole gauge issue on the sweater and learned that I wasn't the only one who was totally confused. I guess I'm a little disappointed that I ended up having to rewrite the pattern myself to fit a normal gauge, but I used to be a math major. I can figure it out, right? I just wish I would have known about the crazy gauge before I bought the pattern. It seems to be working out, though. I've got a pretty good start -- I'm only a few rounds away from the part where I separate for the sleeves. And in this picture, you see my weekend: the sweater, the remote, and the candy hearts. Yea candy hearts! They alone will be able to fuel my sweater-knitting.

Yesterday, we were supposed to spend the day with one of Paul's coworkers, who had flown in from Delft over the weekend. But, thanks to all those snowstorms, he didn't make it on Saturday as planned. He called on Sunday morning, still stranded in Philly. He was trying to get a flight in, but it was all up in the air -- so I spent much of the day watching even more of the Olympics while working on the sweater. Then we ended up driving to Cincinnati (which, for the record is about 130 miles, one way) to pick him up from the airport. More sweater knitting for me (though it was dark when he arrived, so I had to sit quietly on the way back, since I'd forgotten my little night light).

Then we went out to Mongolian BBQ, so it was all good.

Today's already been a busy day, too. You know...all that Monday morning stuff to do. And then Jody Shelley stopped by for coffee, since he's on Olympic Break and all -- and I just couldn't send him away. What a way to start the week!

(Okay...so it's not the real Jody Shelley. It's Jody Shelley Head on a Stick. Paul bought it for me, after much begging on my part -- and it was okay because the $1 went to charity. I think I'm going to make him a scarf. Lisa decided that he's a winter and would look good in blue.)

Friday, February 10, 2006


This afternoon, I stopped over at Julie's place because she's graciously letting me borrow a Blue Jackets jersey for tonight's game -- because everybody and their mother wears jerseys to the game, and I haven't gotten my own yet, for fear that I'll be lynched back home, in Red Wings territory (I'm thinking that if I get one with 91 -- Sergei Fedorov's number -- on it, that'll save my hide a little bit and show my loyalty to *both* teams). Anyway...while I was there, I conned Julie into helping me block my Birch because I totally have no clue what I'm doing when it comes to blocking, and I want this one to turn out. As an added bonus, Julie had borrowed some blocking wires, which are absolutely heavenly for blocking.

Julie promised that no one would run across the shawl while it's blocking. And the dog is guaranteeing that by guarding it with her life:

Tomorrow, my Birch will be blocked and ready to wear. I can't wait! And, in the meantime, it's totally inspired both me and Julie to get to work on lace again. I love lace. It's as addictive as, say, crack. Or, perhaps, Starbucks. Or Pizza Pizza in Canada (whenever I watch a Canadian hockey game and see the Pizza Pizza ads on the boards, I start craving it again). But anyway...you get the idea. Once you start, you might as well just forget about quitting.

Julie bought some gorgeous fuschia lace-weight yarn today, and we've picked out her next shawl. I'm thinking I might try a scarf for my next lace project. Then another shawl. It'll have to be something nice to wear with whatever it is that I choose to wear to my SIL's wedding in June...

Stood Up

Yesterday, I was excited to meet the gang at Caribou Coffee for caffeine and knitting. Miss Carol and the Sock Princess promised that they'd be there. They said so on Wednesday, when Julie ran into them at the LYS. And the Sock Princess promised that she wouldn't end up at the gas station coffee shop, trying to figure out where the heck we were, like she did last time. But we got there at the usual time, got our coffee, settled in, and...no Miss Carol or Sock Princess. We totally got stood up! Can you believe it? So instead of sharing finished projects and Knit Picks color cards with the ladies, I finished up the scarf that I'd started for my niece at the game, and Julie flipped through her Treasury of Knitting Patterns and found a really cute pattern to try out for a blanket square, all the while harassing me about the joys of swatching. I'll buy necessary. Swatching is often necessary. But it is not fun.

Last night, after a trip to the grocery store and between trips to the Honda dealership to drop off/pick up my car (which is now, finally, home for good), I sat down and figured out the math for the next part of The Mystery Project. I was so very tired last night (after not sleeping the night before), but I couldn't go to bed until I finished the next part. Now, if all goes well, I think I may be able to finish the thing by early next week, and I'll be able to show it off -- and finally reveal what the heck the thing is. It might be a little bigger than I'd planned (it's always a little tricky to figure out exactly how things are going to work when you're working with 3x3 ribbing), but I think it's going to be pretty cool anyway.

I wish I could bring it along and work on it during the game tonight, but we're going with non-knitters, and non-knitters usually don't understand the whole hanging-out-and-knitting thing. So I'll have to refrain because Paul would probably get mad at me if I brought my knitting along and forced my addiction on another friend. So it'll be weird sitting through a whole hockey game without knitting a single stitch, but I'll survive.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wicked. Awesome.

Last night was in-freakin-credible.

Julie called in the afternoon to make our plans for The Big Game, and I was frantically trying to work while also doing a couple of loads of laundry and trying to figure out (a) what to wear and (b) which knitting project to bring. I was worthless yesterday afternoon. Too excited. It was like those Disney World commercials, where the little kids are too excited to sleep because they're going to Disney World. It was something like that. I was going to Nationwide Arena to watch the Blue Jackets.

I'd like to say right now that I really do feel bad for Julie's poor husband, who's been working so much lately that he had to miss out on the game. But that didn't stop me from enjoying the game in his place.

After a quick stop at Wendy's for take-out, we scarfed down dinner in the car and made it to the Arena by 6:30. We walked through the security checks, where we had to open our bags. Julie went through before I did, and when the woman inspected my bag, she poked at my knitting and said, "What's that?"

"Oh, that's my knitting," I told her.

"Oh. You knit, too," she said, apparently a little taken aback that we'd be knitting at a hockey game, as she made me lift my jersey (borrowed from Julie) -- perhaps checking for metal needles, which I could have used as a weapon against the guy next to me, who had a bad habit of taking up my leg room.

We got to our seats (which were awesome) and pulled out our knitting as we watched the teams warm up.

Here's Julie with her Hourglass sleeve:

I chose to work on a nice garter-stitch scarf for my niece. Nice and brainless.

Now, Julie and I, we're really positive people, but even we couldn't ignore the fact that the Jackets aren't the best team in the league -- and the LA Kings had slaughtered us in the past. But that was the Old Blue Jackets -- back when, well, we sucked. But we don't suck anymore. The hockey gods have smiled upon Columbus, and we've pulled it together.

The first period wasn't pretty. After 35 seconds, we were down 1-0. By the end, we were down 3-1. But the boys kicked it into gear for the second period, and we tied it up. 3-3. Then came the third period. As it started, I put my scarf (which I'd actually almost finished) away. "I can't knit during the third period," I announced. And it's a good thing I put the needles away -- because I may have ended up taking out an eye. The third period was just plain insane. We scored three goals in just over three minutes. As soon as we'd sit down, we'd jump out of our seats again. It was crazy. And when time ran out, the scoreboard looked like this:

This was especially exciting for me, since I'd never actually been to an NHL game when my team won. Words cannot even express the excitement. After driving back to Julie's house, hanging out and knitting for a bit, and going home to tell Paul about every little detail, I couldn't sleep. Too excited. I got *no* sleep last night. Good thing I'm going for coffee with the girls today. :)

And guess what...I get to do it all over again tomorrow, when we're getting cheap seats with some friends for the game against the Avs. GO JACKETS!

(Speaking of which, Julie and I are going to do a GO JACKETS Scarf-along as soon as I can get Paul to put the pattern together for us.)

In other news, my GO KNIGHTS scarf is obviously good luck. Last night, my alma mater once again met their rivals. If you'll recall, they were totally trounced last time. But I wore the scarf last night -- and the Knights won...by one point. GO KNIGHTS!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Swatching May Be Hazardous to Your Heath

I hate swatching. Always have, always will. I envy people like Julie, who love swatching. Julie can't get a skein of yarn in the mail without whipping out her needles right away. But I'm not like that. I hate swatching.

On my lunch break yesterday, in celebration of the facts that:
a) I called the body shop and got to the bottom of the lingering issues my car was having
b) I managed to finish a book review that I've been wrestling with since Friday

I decided to treat myself by swatching for my sweater. But here's the deal: the pattern calls for worsted weight -- with a gauge of 15 sts / 4" with US7 needles. That's less than 4 sts/inch on 7s! Am I the only one who's a bit baffled? I worked up my worsted weight swatch and got about 18 sts on US8s. And I think it would be too loose if I went up to 9s. I just looked up another project that I recently did in heavy worsted, and I found that my gauge was maybe 16 sts on US9s. I realize that I knit a little tight -- but not that tight. I'm so confused.

Swatch = Ppppbt.

Meanwhile, it just occurred to me that I need to pick out another new project today. Tonight, Julie and I are going to watch the Blue Jackets beat the Kings. And I need to have some good brainless knitting to bring with me. (Okay -- I'll admit it. I usually get too caught up in the game to knit anyway, but I've got to bring some along anyway -- at least for intermissions.) I'd bring The Mystery Project, but it's too big and clumsy. Besides, I'm about to move on to the next step in the design -- the step that's going to take a little thought. But here she is right now:

Any guesses? (No, it's not a tire cover.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New Book Review

My review of Elanor Lynn's Cozy Knits for Cuddly Babies was published this morning. Head over to NightsAndWeekends.com to check it out.

Secret Projects, Puppets, and Giggles: Another Monday with the Girls

Yesterday was an excellent day. I finished the back cover of my book (finally!), I picked out a new pattern (and the yarn), I actually got to do some writing, and I had knitting with the girls.

I left early yesterday for knitting with the girls -- because I had to run to the store to pick up cupcakes for Miss E's birthday. I rushed to the store, worried that I'd be late, and no one was there. No one. So I sat down in my corner of the couch and snagged a copy of the new Knit.1 to flip through for a while. There weren't a ton of patterns that I couldn't live without, but there was a handy reference guide -- with knitting terms in ten languages. Now *that* would come in handy. I think I may have to buy a copy just for that.

Eventually, Miss S showed up. She and I were just about to dig in to the cupcakes when Miss E arrived. Not too long after we'd eaten our cupcakes, we had a new knitter show up -- another Miss E. (In fact, come to think of it, there are 3 Miss Es now.) There was a lot of knitting going on in the front of the store. Miss S was working on her scarf. Miss E was working on her super-cool felted bag. And the new Miss E was working on a wrap. I, on the other hand, taunted the girls by telling them that my project is a secret project. Man, they hated that. It's a big black ribbed thing in the round. Some thought it was a sweater. Others, a skirt. It was even suggested that it might be a big knitted cover for the spare tire on the back of my car. But I'm not tellin'. They'll just have to wait and see. I was going to post a picture of my progress today, but now I guess I'm just going to have to wait -- so I can torture them a little longer. :)

While we were chatting and knitting, the new Miss E brought up her school's guidance counselor, who communicates to the kids through puppets. One of them, apparently called "Candy Wanda," is supposed to tell the kids that it's time to "clear their creative space" or something like that. I said that I needed a Candy Wanda of my own -- and when I pull her out, everyone has to knit. This, of course, would come in handy for the girls who tend to zone out (like Miss C) or start talking and forget to knit (like Miss H, who was home sick this week). Miss E's grandmother suggested putting a can of pennies inside, so I can shake it at the girls every time they stop knitting -- and the puppet soon became the Behavioral Modification Puppet. And that settled it. Now I have to design a puppet. I'm going to have to start digging some scraps out of my stash.

Miss E announced that she's grounded for the next couple of weeks, so we won't be seeing her for a couple of Mondays. When she's back, I should have that puppet ready to go...

Monday, February 06, 2006

BTW...Have You Heard The Llama Song?

Even before I learned to knit, I loved saying the word "llama." I'd say it over and over and over. "Llamallamallamallamallamallamallamallama." Try it once.

Now play the song.

Fiber, Food, Football...

Yesterday was the annual Super Bowl Sale at The Stitch in Delaware, so, after getting a phone call from Julie, summoning me to the knitterly goodness, I hopped in the car and drove north, where we made our way through the yarns, greeting just about everyone we knew. The Super Bowl Sale at The Stitch is one huge event. Believe it or not, I didn't even buy anything -- even though I really *wanted* to buy something. But, for some reason, nothing was calling out to me. Or maybe my ears were still a little clogged from the cold.

After the sale, I headed back to Julie's to help make chili. But, upon getting there, we realized that there were no canned green chilies in the house, so I headed out to the grocery store with Julie's daughter Emily. There, we wandered through the store about four times, picking up Cool Ranch Doritos...Fruit Smoothie Skittles (which Emily just had to have -- and who am I to deny my kinda-niece her Skittles?)...anything but chilies. It took an emergency phone call back to Julie to get ourselves to the Canned Chilies Aisle.

Back at the ranch, it was a Food Free-For-All. There was chili. There were chips of all kinds. And there was a huge back of Skittles (which were actually quite good). And then there was football. I pulled out the vest that I started designing over the weekend, and Julie pulled out a lace pattern that she's been trying to chart.

I can't say that I remember much of the game, but we thoroughly enjoyed the commercials. I can't say how many times I've watched the Diet Pepsi Brown and Bubbly commercial already -- and we totally loved the Nationwide Fabio commercial. I was also a big fan of Sprint's Crime Deterrent Phone and the Bud Light Magic Fridge. During the half-time show, however, we were generally appalled. I have to say that the Rolling Stones' show was the one time during the evening when I really wished that we weren't watching in HD. It was just plain disturbing. Though we were quite amused by what appeared to be granny pants thrown on stage (something that Julie told me that she expected to be mentioned on the blog today), the wrinkly old men with arm flab was just more than we could handle. And all this because of one wardrobe malfunction two years ago. Ah...I remember when the Super Bowl Halftime Show was cool.

But, overall, a good time was had by all -- though I'm still a little sick from all the Doritos I consumed. I figure the Super Bowl -- and the subsequent Dorito Hangover -- only comes once a year, though, so it's all good.

This morning, I was feeling the need for another new project. So, after admiring Rachel's Glampyre Raglan for a while now, I broke down and bought the pattern. And, instead of finishing up the copy for my book cover (oops), I went skipping downstairs to pick out some yarn. I'm actually thinking about breaking into the old Cotton Ease stockpile for a happy sweater in Popsicle Blue. Yea! A new project! I can't wait!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Scarf...

Here it is:

I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. And, of course, now I'm on a shadow knitting kick again. Paul designed a fishy scarf pattern, too, so you may be seeing that one in the near future, too.

And now comes the fun part. I've finished three whole projects this week, and now I get to figure out what to start next. The possibilities are endless!

Bright Spots in a Blah Day

Yesterday was One of Those Days. You know -- the days when nothing seems to go right. I spent most of the day staring at my computer, trying to think of something brilliantly witty to put on the back cover of my book, but the DayQuil got in the way. I was just feeling way too blah to be witty. So I missed my self-imposed deadline of finishing by the end of the week. Oh, well. There's always Monday.

But, in the midst of all the blah-ness, I got some good news: my car was ready! Woohoo!

So last night we went to get my car from the shop. It had been almost five weeks since we'd dropped it off, and I was so happy (in my own tired and slightly drugged way) to have it back. It looks as good as new. Unfortunately, sometime in the last five weeks, my zebra print steering wheel cover disappeared. Needless to say, I was a little cranky about that -- especially since that particular steering wheel cover has since vanished from Target's shelves. Grrr...

After we picked up the car, Paul (who had also had a pretty bad day) and I decided to order Chinese takeout and spend the rest of the evening zoned out in front of the TV. And it was there that I finished my School Spirit Scarf! Woohoo! I've got to tell you -- it looks really cool. As soon as I add a few more tassels to the currently sparsely-tasseled ends, I'll take a picture and show it off.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Knitting Diet

No, I'm not talking about "the yarn diet" -- in which [crazy] people [with way more self-control than I could ever dream of having] force themselves to stop buying yarn. The woman in this article claims that knitting has actually helped her lose 45 pounds -- just because she's sitting in her living room knitting instead of wandering to the kitchen to eat. Me, I just have Paul bring the snacks to me...

Broadening Horizons...and Other Challenges

Okay, so I was just reading Lolly's comment to yesterday's post, and it once again got me thinking about my project of choice for the first month of Project Spectrum. I was thinking about how I was griping about red yesterday -- and how it's not my color -- and then I looked down and realized that I was wearing one of my favorite old hand-me-down sweatshirts. And it just happens to be red. Duh. So that got me thinking even more about this whole project. It's supposed to be about exploring color, right? About broadening our color horizons. So, gosh darnit, I'm going to learn something from this experience. And during the month of March, I will learn to appreciate red, which I rarely wear, and pink, which I only recently started wearing again, after being over-pinked as a kid, being my mother's only daughter and all. So here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to dye myself some yarn in all kinds of reds and pinks. And then I'm going to knit it up into whatever it tells me it wants to be -- whether that's a scarf or a shawl or a One Skein Wonder. And I will wear it with pride.

And speaking of challenges...I'm once again amazed today by the unpredictability of felted projects. I've been working on a project out of Wool of the Andes, which, I've found, felts like crazy in a matter of minutes. This time, however, I used a double strand of WOTA. I ran it through an entire cycle, and it barely felted. Amazing! So I'll just have to run it through again.

Today I'm facing a non-knitting challenge, too. Yesterday was my Big Deadline for getting proofs back to my publisher so he can get everything printed. Of course, the deadline would coincide with the weird bug that I picked up this week -- the one that made me just a little bit out of it. But I got everything done in time (though, thanks to said bug, I'm not totally sure that everything I sent made sense). Today, however, I got a note back asking if I had my text for the book's back cover. Crap. The book's back cover copy is seriously important. And, of course, I haven't written it yet. So now I have to crank out something witty, something that will make people want to buy my book, by, oh, right now. I started writing, and then I came up with a brilliant idea. Since the book is a collection of fake news stories, what I really need is a few really good fake quotes for the back cover. But, of course, that means that I have to actually come up with really good fake quotes. Perhaps if I take a little more of my daytime cold and flu medicine, along with another couple of cans of Mountain Dew, I'll be in the right mood to write it. Wish me luck -- and if you've got any good fake quotes for the back cover of a book full of fake news, please send them my way. I'll love you forever. Until then, it's back to the fridge for another Dew for me...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

It's That Time Again...

It's MagKnits time! I'm thinking I may need to try out the TechGuy Socks for my very own TechGuy.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do for Lolly's Project Spectrum. It starts in March, and we're supposed to do *something* with pink or red. Red isn't exactly my color, so I'm pretty low on reds in my stash -- except for something I dyed long ago and some wool. Pink, however, I may be able to swing that. I've got some pink for a fun scarf for my niece. I've also got some bright pink for another One Skein Wonder. I could do pink baby stuff, but, of all my pregnant friends, no one's announced that they're having a girl. So here I am, not even into the first month of the project, and I'm struck with indecision... Fortunately, I've got a month to figure it out.

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