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

Thursday, August 31, 2006


I feel like a little kid -- you know, when you were about to go on vacation to someplace really cool, and you just couldn't sit still anymore. That's how I am right now.

First the cottage, then Malaysia. I've been busting my butt this week to work ahead -- review a few movies, edit all the book reviews for the next three weeks, stock up on extra books to review while I'm there... And now, suddenly, I've hit a brick wall.

Okay, maybe it wasn't so sudden. It first hit last Friday. But at least I've been able to work since then. But sometime yesterday, my brain went into eight-year-old-going-to-Disney-World mode. When I try to edit a review, I end up studying the latest security updates to figure out if I can pack a mini solid deodorant in my carry-on (apparently, solid is okay -- incidentally, while you can't carry cattle prods in your carry-on, they're perfectly okay in your checked baggage). When I try to sit down and review something, I end up searching for Malaysian yarn shops online. When I try to update my to-do list, I end up designing baby sweater patterns in my head.

Maybe I should have laid off the coffee this morning.

I ended up skipping last night's screening so we could shop for trip things -- like waterproof disposable cameras -- and do some laundry before we head out to the cottage tomorrow. I also got some time to do a little knitting -- and I'm almost finished with Sleeve #1. I have to tell you, I'm loving this thing. The yarn (KnitPicks Quarry) is really warm and bulky, yet really light. It's a boucle, so it's not always the easiest to knit with (it's really easy to pick up extra yarny loops with your stitches), but I love how it knits up. I think Mom will like it. I'm looking forward to finishing it, though, so I can go back to posting pictures...

BTW - Thanks for the comments on the BIL scarf. I love how deceptively simple it is. If you can do shadow knitting, this is pretty similar. It's so very easy -- but I think it looks really cool. When I'm done, I'll see what I can do about writing up the pattern.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Week of Insanity, Day 1

Okay, so the weekend didn't turn out to be as glorious as planned. Sure, parts of it were great. On Friday night, we pretty much just crashed. We did, however, take the time to listen to the radio show when it was actually broadcast on the radio -- which was a totally surreal experience. Yeah, I've listened to the thing online, but listening to it on the radio somehow makes it that much cooler.

On Saturday night, we went to see Nacho Libre at the local cheap theater with Chandra and Dave. Believe it or not, despite the number of movies I see on a weekly basis, I even to go movies in my spare time. Just for fun.

Yesterday, however, I spent the afternoon at Urgent Care, getting poked and prodded and x-rayed. My rib has pretty much healed, fortunately, but my fall did something nasty and totally unidentifiable to my insides. Often (just about every day, though I get some days off), I have breathing issues. According to the doctor I saw yesterday, through a stethoscope, my right lung sounds like it's full of Rice Krispies. But the x-rays don't really show anything serious, so I walked out with a prescription for an inhaler and a recommendation to get a CAT-scan.

And when, I wonder, do I have time to get a CAT-scan?

So after all that, I went home last night, crashed on the couch, watched way too much TV, and worked on The Christmas Sweater. I finished the body last night, and I started Sleeve #1. Considering that there are only four more nights in Project Spectrum Neutral Month -- and I have to attend screenings on three of those nights -- I seriously doubt that I'll be finishing in time for the end of Project Spectrum. But I'll be close -- and that's good enough for me.

Meanwhile, since I can't quite show pictures of the Christmas Sweater yet (though I may throw one in at some point -- just because I love it and want to share), here's my BIL's scarf:

I also did a little stash cleaning this weekend. I actually managed to do the unthinkable: I cleaned out some of the stuff that I know I'll never use -- and that made room for some of my recent purchases, which I know I will actually use. Eventually. And I started trying to figure out what I'm going to bring with me to Malaysia. There will definitely be lace -- since, not only does it take up very little room, but I also need to get back to work on it. I have all kinds of lace designs in mind -- but I need to finish this one first. (Is that willpower, or what?) Ruth recommended bringing cotton -- since it will most likely be hot there. And that's advice that I intend to heed. Ever since Jeanne started talking about doing the Ballet Cami, I've been thinking about making one for myself, too (does that make me a copycat? If so, it wouldn't be the first time...). I have all kinds of yarn that was supposed to be Picovoli (which is still sitting around, still unfrogged, somewhere), and I think that might work. Or maybe I'll frog Picovoli and try to start over. I'm also considering Tempting, for which I just bought the yarn. So many options...! But, hey -- I could always use a few more. Have any of you made any great, lighter-weight patterns that you'd recommend for the trip? If so, let me know!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Where Are We Going Now?

In case you haven't noticed, we don't tend to stick around the house all that much. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that when we met (and until we'd been married for eight months) we actually lived 400 miles apart. Maybe that's why it just doesn't feel right to stay in one place for long. Then again, sometimes it just gets downright confusing. I remember when, eight months after we got married, we packed up a U-Haul in Toronto, finished loading it up in Michigan, and unpacked it in Massachusetts. Three weeks later, Paul's company sent us to the Netherlands -- for a month. I remember that last night in Delft, trying to figure out where the heck it was that we were flying back to.

Even this summer, which was a little out of the ordinary, thanks to my falling in a big hole, we didn't spend a ton of time sitting around the house alone. We just had everyone come to us instead.

So last weekend, I took off to the tent sale (yea!). This weekend, we'll actually be home. Next weekend, we'll head to the cottage for Labor Day. Then we'll get back on Monday, do some laundry and things, and catch a plane on Wednesday, headed for Malaysia. Paul was just there in June, and I told him that he wasn't allowed to go again without bringing me along. He's got more work stuff to do out there, so I'm tagging along. He'll be working for a week or so, and then we're going to take a few days off to do some sight-seeing and lounge on a beach. In early October, we'll be celebrating our five-year anniversary, and we were planning on going on a cruise. But instead we'll be spending some time on some Malaysian island. Not too shabby.

Of course, that leaves me with a few big questions:

1) Are there yarn stores in Malaysia? I've found only one so far, and I have no idea where it is. I've also looked up some Malaysian yellow pages, but alas, my Malay is not too good, so I had no idea what they said. There's got to be some kind of yarn out there, wouldn't you think? I mean, Malaysia's big in silk. I've got to be able to get some silk yarn for a good price...

2) What projects will I need to bring with me for two whole weeks away? I'm going to need a whole extra suitcase, just for my knitting.

3) How the heck am I going to fly for 24 hours if I'm not even allowed to bring toothpaste on the plane? ICK!

It just hit me yesterday that I've only got a week of work to go before we leave. Just one week. So I have a feeling that I won't be getting in a lot of knitting time next week -- or seeing my husband, for that matter. It looks like I'll be squeezing in as many screenings as I can. Right now, it's looking like I'll be going to screenings on Tuesday morning and night, Wednesday night, and Thursday night -- more, if I can fit them in. I just found out that there's one the morning before we leave, too. And who knows...maybe there will be an in-flight movie of something we missed on the site, and I can review that, too.

I think by the time we reach that Malaysian island, I'll need a little break, though. This week was another hectic one. On top of the usual stuff, I also did the radio show again. This time, however, it was a little different. One of the two guys was on vacation, so not only did I have to do two reviews (The Illusionist and, of course, Snakes on a Plane, but I also had to do the intro stuff, the ending stuff, and the usual banter. And I had to help produce the thing. I got to wear the headset and say things like, "I think we need to cut back on the music a touch." Clay, the one who was on vacation, has an incredible ear for things like that, so I'm a little nervous that he's going to come after me for messing up his show. So maybe it's best that I'm heading to Malaysia to hide out for a couple of weeks. But, other than a couple of little things that bugged me about it after we'd recorded (and the fact that I am, and always will be, my very worst critic), I think it went relatively well, considering I'm still a rookie.

So anyway, in knitting news, I spent large parts of this week winding my giant two-dollar hanks into balls. I started with the Cotton Tots, which are now two balls, each roughly the size of my head. I decided, after doing that, that yarn balls the size of your head aren't all that portable. So I decided to do the tweed in smaller balls. So I set up my swift and winder again last night and ended up with five balls, which will be a little more portable. I can't wait to make something out of that -- it'll make a gorgeous fall sweater.

Unfortunately, I can't post pictures of what I'm working on right now -- since, as Mom always said, "Christmas is coming -- don't ask questions." And though Mom knows the pattern I'm working on, and which yarn I'm using (since she picked it all out herself), I'd like to leave a little bit of a surprise in there.

I was going to post a picture of my brother-in-law's scarf -- since there's no way he's reading my blog. But Blogger isn't letting me, for some reason. So I guess it'll have to wait until my next post. Can you handle the suspense?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Still Recovering...

Wow! What a weekend!

It all started on Thursday night, when the local critics met up for drinks before making our way over to Snakes on a Plane. We were all so excited. Most of the gang was wearing their very own Snakes T-shirts. And one of the guys brought some plastic toy snakes -- which, upon getting to the theater, he was forced to return to his car. The theater people said there were no snakes allowed in the theater. They didn't want anyone getting riled up, you know. Of course, despite all their threats and warnings, there were still plastic snakes and gummy worms *everywhere*.

I've been to a lot of movies, but the only time I've seen a crowd this rowdy was opening night of Star Wars: Episode I. There were costumes and T-shirts. One guy led a cheer. People did the wave. And once the movie started, it got even louder. People cheered and laughed and screamed and hissed through the whole thing. It was the greatest movie-going experience of the year. As for the movie, it was exactly as I expected: campy and hilarious, yet totally gruesome. For my full review, you can check out NightsAndWeekends.com tomorrow morning.

I got home well past midnight, and, of course, I couldn't sleep. So by the time I picked Chandra up at a little after 9 on Friday morning, I was already beat -- and the weekend hadn't even begun yet! We spent much of the day driving, getting more and more excited as we drove. And we finally made it to the sale around 4.

When we entered the tent, we were greeted by a box of "shopping bags" -- which were actually giant black garbage bags. And it took no time at all to fill them. There were bins and bins and bins of full bags of yarn, giant cones, huge hanks, and 1-pound bags of various other stuff. I was in heaven. It didn't take long at all for me to fill my bag with so much yarn that I could barely carry it.

Then we loaded up the car and prepared to actually go inside the store:

Inside the store, we found a few more goodies. Then, while Chandra was admiring a bag of something, a woman walked up behind her and said, "There are huge hanks of that in the tent -- they just put them out." Chandra dropped what she was looking at, we paid for our purchases, and we went straight back to the tent.

It's amazing how much damage we did in a little over an hour.

That night, we didn't actually have a place to stay. Our arrangements had fallen through (*long* story), so we decided to wing it. Finally, after a couple of hours of finding only hotels that were well beyond our budget, hotels that were full, and hotels where pimps bargained for two-hour stays (as it turns out, there was a big lacrosse tournament in the area), we found a somewhat decent place. Granted, we could only get a smoking room. And, after we wandered through the mall down the street and had Pizza Pizza for dinner, we came back to our room to discover that a band of wandering hippies had set up a bunch of chairs by the pool -- right outside our room -- and they sat around playing a guitar and singing until at least midnight.

But we were too tired to care.

We were so overwhelmed by the day's activities that we didn't even knit. We just set our purchases out on the bed and admired them. And played with them. And talked about what we were going to do with them. Next year, I'm bringing my swift and ball-winder -- because I would have had everything balled and ready to go by the end of the night.

The next morning, we woke up with all the after-effects of a long night of smoking, thanks to our room. By that time, we were eager to get the heck out of there, so we showered, ate some muffins, and hit the road. We took our time, stopping for a couple of hours at a giant farmers' market, where we admired all kinds of vegetables that we'd never even seen before. We wished we hadn't eaten breakfast -- because there were so many fresh baked goods there. But we'll be back next year -- and we'll be prepared.

After the market stop, we headed back to the store -- because, of course, overnight, we'd had our regrets. I regretted not buying a couple of bags of random stuff, and Chandra wanted to get some more dyeable yarn ($9CDN/bag of 5 223-yd balls). When we got there, the place was packed. The parking lot was full, and there was a stand set up, selling drinks and hot dogs. Inside the tent, there was a long line of people waiting to pay for their haul. But I braved it out and bought a couple more bags of yarn.

Once we'd hit the road, we decided to head for the lake -- to knit by the water for a while. But after we'd been on the road for about ten minutes, it started to pour. So we ended up changing our plans and heading to London. There, we ate poutine in the mall before heading to Chapters to drink coffee and knit. We didn't stay *too* long, though -- because we knew that we might be in for another hotel hunt.

Fortunately, our second night's search wasn't nearly as painful. We eventually found a great place that had non-smoking rooms available -- and it was even cheaper than the dump we'd been in the night before. So we unpacked, settled in, and did some knitting in our room before venturing out again. We did a little shopping at the mall (we found a lot of malls this weekend...), then we stuffed ourselves at Jack Astor's before heading back to our room and knitting in front of the TV for the rest of the night. In the morning, we loaded up, stopped at Tim Horton's for coffee and bagels (and TimBits), and hit the road. I was home by about 5.

I couldn't wait to dump everything out on the living room floor:

So here's what I got (clockwise, from top):
2lbs of Cotton Tots: $2
2lbs of Shetland Chunky Tweed: $2
2lbs of, I think, Max, which is just new: $2
1 bag of Matrix: $6
1 bag of Katrina: $12
3 bags of Classic Wool: $22.50
2lb cone of cotton: $4
1lb Brilliant: $5.99
1 bag Fresco: $2
1 bag LuLu: $3

The total in US$: around $55

The estimated total value (including the Max, which isn't available yet, though I got 12.3 balls of it -- and it's got to be, estimating low, worth at least $5 a ball, right?): around $500.

Not bad, huh? Even with the hotel costs and food and gas, I still ended up saving lots -- and I didn't even expect to.

I've already made a scarf for my sister-in-law out of the Matrix. And I wound the Cotton Tots into two giant balls, each roughly the size of my head. Though I'd really just like to sit around and look at it, I'm gradually finding places for all of it. And I'm coming up with all kinds of project ideas. So far, I've got a million baby sweaters, two million dishcloths, maybe some felted clogs, Tempting, and a few other various sweaters. That should keep me busy for a while, don't you think?

I had such a great time this weekend. I'm beat, but I had so much fun. I can't wait till next year!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Snakes on a Knitting Blog

The big buzz of the day is the big opening of SNAKES ON A PLANE tonight. I think just about every single film critic in the area is meeting up for drinks tonight, and we're all going to the 10pm showing. I'm sure it'll be absolutely insane -- and I can't wait.

So I'll be getting to bed late tonight -- and I'll be up and hitting the road in the morning. Tent Sale Weekend, baby! I've got the directions and all of my wish lists printed out. Now I just need to go to the store and stock up on junk food. I've got my clothes packed -- and I'm pretty sure I'll be packing way more knitting stuff than clothes.

I'm running on serious adrenaline today -- and I've got a mile-long to-do list -- but I wanted to tell everyone to have a wonderful weekend. I'll be sure to have plenty of pictures to post next week.

And, speaking of pictures, I've got my first neutral FO picture to post. Here's the little girl's jumper that I did over the weekend. Our friends are having a little girl next month, so it might be a gift for them...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Time Flies...

Time flies when you're crazy-busy. It's been quite a week here in Kramerland. Last week, I was swamped with work. I'm still trying to get a few things caught up, plus I had three screenings to attend (I wore my new sweater to one of them, and I was very proud of myself -- I *LOVE* it!). Then the in-laws showed up on Friday -- my MIL, FIL, and Little Bro-in-Law. It was all pretty crazy.

And speaking of crazy, while they were here, I knit up a cute little girly jumper in neutral colors. I'd share a picture, but my computer isn't cooperating again today. I'll try again tomorrow.

I also have a picture of my *next* neutral -- Mom's Christmas sweater (Just for the record -- Mom already knows about her sweater. She picked out the pattern and the yarn -- so don't worry...I'm not ruining any surprises here.). I ordered some Quarry from KnitPicks. And, while I was at it, I picked up a couple of their new circs. LOVE THEM!

Today, I rushed out to get my hair cut before going to see the girlies. Yesterday was Miss H's birthday, so I brought brownies. It's a good thing I brought a bunch -- because we had a huge turnout this week! Miss A the speed knitter returned with her so-cute top that she's been working on this summer. Miss H was there, of course. So was Miss S, who brought her "bratty little sister," Miss M. Miss M just learned to knit last week, and she's already whipped out a washcloth. Wow! Another Miss A returned (remember the week when I had nothing but Miss A's?). She also brought her little sister, Miss D. And, after a while, Miss S the Big returned with her gorgeous scarf, and I taught her to bind off. Count 'em -- that's seven girlies!

It was a lot of fun, though -- and not nearly as out-of-control as last week (when I had five girlies -- three of whom had never knit before!). We spent quite a bit of time telling Sad Stories About Pastries. It started with the sad story about how I didn't get *any* leftovers from my wedding cake because the reception hall staff decided that the cake was *really good* -- not that I'd know. And then it moved into Sad Stories About Pies. Miss S, who could also be known as Miss Doom and Gloom, shouted out, "I've got a sad story about pie. I don't like pie."

This week, I've got another busy week ahead of me. I'm hitting the TV studio tomorrow to watch a couple of colleagues film their show. Then I've got a screening tomorrow night. And on Thursday night, all the cool film critics in town are gathering to see the first show of Snakes on a Plane. We were a little ticked off that they chose not to have any press screenings for the movie, but we have to go anyway. How could we not? We're meeting up at 7 or so for drinks beforehand, so I'm sure we'll really enjoy the evening -- whether the movie's any good or not. (Though most of the guys out here have already dubbed it The Best Movie Ever Made.)

Then...on Friday morning, Chandra and I are packing up and hitting the road for the Uber Yarn Outlet's Annual Tent Sale. Woohoo! Am I healthy enough for a crazy road trip like that? Probably not. Am I going to do it anyway? Heck yeah! I can't wait! I'm already putting my wishlist together -- I think I know what I'll be doing with this year's birthday money...

Monday, August 07, 2006


I stopped by Joann's over the weekend to check out the button supply -- and, lo and behold, they're 40% off this week. Yea! So I bought some -- and I'll probably go back and get more. Never can have a big enough stash, you know.

Right now, I'm trying to decide which buttons to use on the cardi. I bought a package with pretty citrusy colors -- orange, yellow, green, pink, and turquoise. The yellow and pink don't work, and the green is blah. The turquoise buttons are a little small...and the orange aren't bad. I also dug out of my stash some blue for a little contrast. But right now, I'm leaning toward the flowery buttons that I got a while back for a baby sweater. I like that they're different -- fun and colorful and summery. And it doesn't really matter that they're not all that functional, since I'll most likely never button the thing anyway.

So here are my options (though the color on this picture is horrible, for some reason). Any thoughts?

I definitely took full advantage of my Treasuries this weekend. I knit up a bunch of dishcloths using new stitch patterns, courtesy of my Treasuries. I worked on my lace (pattern courtesy of my Treasury). And I started a totally cool scarf, which my brother-in-law will get for Christmas. Last year, he got the alien shadow-knit scarf, and I just decided that it would be fun to keep trying out cool patterns and techniques out on him every year from now on. Paul is still attached to the scarf I knit him four years ago, and I don't know of anyone else who would appreciate a crazy-cool scarf, so my brother-in-law will continue to reap the benefits. This year, he's getting a mosaic scarf in black and gray (PS August!). And, of course, I dug the pattern out of my Treasury. Pictures of all of that stuff to come -- but right now I have to get back to work. It won't be long before I have to go and knit with the girlies.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A FO...and Thoughts on Neutrals

Last night I finished up my Summer Cardi! I was actually dying to work on my lace a little more, but I was determined -- I had to finish the sweater first. And I did. Now I just have to pick out the buttons. There are some really cute ones at the LYS -- yellow with some turquoise-y blue. But I'll have to take a look around and see if I can find something a little more...neutral.

The Details:
Pattern: Summer Cardigan (#221) from Knitting Pure & Simple (I made the sleeves shorter than called for)
Yarn: Bernat CottonTots
Color: Sunshine
It only took three skeins! Last time I was at the Uber Yarn Outlet, they had three-skein bags of this color on sale, so I got two. That means I still have enough yarn to make another one (with longer sleeves, even) for Mom -- if she's lucky. Or I suppose I could make a couple of baby sweaters with the rest.

So now...on to Project Spectrum August. July was pretty much a scratch for me, since I seriously cut down on knitting time. But I'm back in the saddle again for August. The problem, however, is that knitting neutrals is tough for me. I always go by the philosophy I read somewhere: Buy neutrals; knit color. So my neutral stash is pretty minimal. I have some light weight cottony stuff that I was going to use for the shawl that ended up being red silk instead. I have a mysterious collection of white acrylic that I think Mom picked up at miscellaneous garage sales. The only other neutral stuff that I have is stuff that's just waiting to be dyed.

Fortunately, there's Mom. Mom has color issues. She dresses in black. And white. I promised Mom I'd knit her a sweater for Christmas. She picked out the pattern (the new Knitting Pure & Simple Bolero (which she wants in a longer length). And she picked out the yarn: KnitPicks' new Quarry boucle in Luna Pearl (black and gray). Neutrals, here I come! Now I just have to order the yarn and hope it comes in before the end of the month (since, while I'm at it, I'm ordering a couple of their new circular needles, too).

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Help! I Can't Keep Up!

Do you ever have those days when you feel like you're so behind that you'll just never get caught up? I think I've felt that way for about four weeks straight now.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes -- and all the comments on the radio show. I had such a great time doing the show -- and I'm trying really hard not to bug the guys too much about having me back. :)

My birthday this year was pretty uneventful, compared to past years. Last year, we took a helicopter ride through the mountains. The years before, thanks to Paul's job taking him overseas for work, I spent two birthdays in the Netherlands and one in Paris. The year before that, Vancouver (where we got our bags stolen, which made for a pretty unpleasant birthday, actually -- though I think this one was even less pleasant). But we made do. I opted out of a fancy birthday dinner, and we ended up at Applebee's, where we had an entire meal composed of nothing but appetizers (which is usually the best part of the meal anyway). All my favorite stuff -- like boneless buffalo wings and fried pickles and spinach and artichoke dip. And you know what? I had a blast doing it. In fact, I think I might have to do that more often. Then we went home and crashed in front of the TV. Paul's birthday was on Monday, so he didn't exactly get an exciting birthday, either -- but we promised to make up for it later, when I can move freely again.

On Monday, I went back to the store to hang out with the girlies. Miss S was there with a new bag (which will eventually be felted). And she brought her friend, Miss S the older, AKA Big Miss S, whom Little Miss S has gotten hooked on knitting. Miss C also returned (you may recall that she hasn't been there in ages, ever since she had that incident with the scarf that her mom wouldn't let her quit knitting, no matter how sick of it she was). Miss C admitted that she hasn't finished the scarf, but her mom's finally letting her start a felted bag. I helped her pick out her yarn and get started. We also had another newbie, Little Miss H, who seemed a little overwhelmed by the whole thing, but she worked hard on a felted bag of her own -- and she said she'd like to come back. We missed Miss H and Miss A this week -- I hope they'll be back next week.

Being the nasty knitting teacher that I am, I tormented the girlies by bringing my Super Secret Project. If nothing else, I figure it gives them something to talk about when they can't think of anything else to talk about. That thing drives them crazy -- because they just can't seem to guess what it is. I'm so mean, but, well, it's fun.

While I was there, I also ended up buying myself a little birthday present. I couldn't help it. You see, they got their shipment of Barbara G. Walker's knitting treasuries a while ago. And, as you know, I ran right down and picked up my copy of Book 1. I was trying to put off buying Book 2 -- but when I got there on Monday, I saw that there was only one copy left. So what else could I do? I couldn't just let it slip through my fingers again, could I? I didn't think so. So now I have another 700 stitch patterns to drool over -- for a total of about 1300, I think. That should keep me busy for a while.

In project news, the summer cardi is almost finished. I just finished up Sleeve #2 yesterday -- I've just got the button bands to go. I hope to finish them tonight -- and I'll post a picture ASAP. I also picked up my lace a little over the last few days. There's nothing really worth posting there, since I've only finished maybe one full repeat. But it's a start. And it was wonderful to pick it up again. Oh, how I love my lace.

So...pictures to come soon. But for now, it's back to work with me.

Hope you're all staying cool!

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