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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

It's rainy and disgusting here today, though I doubt if that will keep the neighborhood urchins from coming to beg for candy. I can wish though, right? Because that would mean a lot of candy for me.

I made the mistake up opening up the bags of candy this morning to get our candy bowl ready. I'd done such a good job of keeping myself from eating all the candy before Halloween -- but once the bags were open, it was all over.

I just hope there's some left when the kids show up.

But anyway...I'm not here to discuss candy. So let's talk about the weekend. On Friday afternoon, I took Mark on his first Yarn Store Adventure. I'm sure you'll be reading about it on his blog soon, so I won't give any of it away (BTW -- did you see his first FO? It looks great!). Then I headed back home to get ready for the Blue Jackets game. One of our fellow film critics was invited to the Party Tower for dinner and a game with the 20+ Club -- those who have been at the university for 20 years or more. Since John doesn't do hockey, he invited me as his hockey tutor.

I'll admit that the whole thing was a little intimidating, hanging out with a bunch of college professor types (just for the record, though, none of them wore a tweed blazer -- and pipe-smoking isn't allowed indoors here in C-town). But after munching on a sandwich in my nice schmoozing duds, I quickly changed into my Blue Jackets jersey (which, I believe, totally amused the professor-types). But let's face it -- I had a gin and tonic in my hand, and I was watching hockey. I didn't care.

After the first period was over, I called Mark, who I suspected would be somewhere in the building, since he'd been talking about getting himself a last-minute $10 ticket. As it turned out, he was about two sections over from where we were -- so we got him to come and join us for the game and the general merriment.

And when it was all over, guess what the final score was...

Yes, Ohio, there is a Great Pumpkin. Halloween miracles *do* happen.

So anyway, the rest of the weekend was spent running errands and mindlessly working on miscellaneous knitting projects. All of my projects right now are bigger projects -- so they don't really make for good photo ops. I'm well into Sleeve #1 on the sweater, though I'm seriously thinking about ripping some (or...gulp...all) of it out and making the sleeves a little bigger. And I've been working like a madwoman on the lace. An opportunity just arose this week to go to a fancy-schmancy event next weekend, to be attended by a bunch of the tweed-jacket-and-pipe crowd (how on Earth have I gotten myself into this crowd? I don't own a tweed jacket, and I haven't smoked a pipe since college...), and I keep imagining how lovely my lace stole would look with a black dress of some sort and my cool new boots that I bought especially for the occasion. But can I finish 21 more repeats and finish blocking by next weekend? Probably not -- but I plan to obsess over it for the next week or so anyway.

And finally...yesterday was knitting with the girlies. Miss S the Smaller was back from camp, and Miss S the Larger returned with her. Miss A also returned, after suffering from a case of the sniffles last week. It being the day before Halloween, all heck broke loose, and there was much singing and dancing and giggling. In order to get the girls to stop their freakin' singing, I came up with a challenge.

"You know, I think our group needs a name," I told them.

Miss S the Smaller came up with The Golden Needles, which, I believe, makes them sound like a bunch of blue-hairs. Miss S the Larger suggested something to the effect of The Stitching, Measuring, Knitting Machines. Or perhaps the Yarn Clan. Miss A came up with The Yarn Hoppers. We didn't come up with anything we liked, so here's the plan: we're all bringing a list next Monday, and we're going to vote (there's actually talk of someone creating a voting booth for the event).

So I need help in creating my list. Any suggestions for a good name for a group of knitting kiddies?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sweater and Stuff

First of all, before I get to the knitting content, a little business content. We've got an incredible contest running on the site right now. We're giving away two prize packages of three games each (totaling well over a hundred bucks). To enter, all you have to do is fill in the entry form and answer a couple of questions (we even tell you where you can find the answers). If you enter, you'll be included in our weekly mailing list, but that means you'll get links to the latest reviews, so it's not all that bad, really.

You can find more information about the contest here.

(I also finished a few new knitting-book reviews. You can find them listed over on the right menu.)

So anyway...back to knitting. Paul once again left me this week. He spent the beginning of the week in Boston, which meant that I spent the beginning of the week working overtime, staying up late, and eating take-out. I didn't get a ton of knitting time, but I did have enough to finish the body of the sweater. I took a picture after I got in on Tuesday night. It's very late, and I'd just sat through a long and depressing movie, so pardon me if I look a little stoned.

I did a little work on the sleeves last night, but I realized that figuring out the sleeve shaping would take a bit of thought -- and I was too engrossed in reality TV to actually think. So I worked on my lace instead. I'm getting a little restless to finish it -- so I can start working on *more* lace. I began my 39th repeat last night. If my calculations are correct, I have 24 to go. Fortunately, it gets easier and easier with every repeat. In fact, I actually worked on it yesterday while I was having coffee with Chandra. She was pretty impressed that I could sit in a coffee shop and knit lace, but this pattern is seriously deceptive. It may look impressive, but it's really easy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Finish What You Started

If there's one thing I hate, it's finishing. I hate it. That's one of the big reasons why I knit top-down sweaters (that and the fact that I'm 5'10", and it's nice to try things on as I go). It's also why I'm doomed to spend the rest of my life surrounded by fully-knitted dishcloths that just need to have their ends woven in.

This weekend, however, I decided to do some finishing.

I started with the baby sweaters. My friends have been poppin' 'em out lately, and I've been procrastinating on putting the finishing touches on the baby sweaters. I went running out to find buttons (because button-shopping is fun) right away -- but it took a while to get to sewing them on. I figured, though, that I'd better finish them and send them out before the babies' first birthdays.

First was Simon Lewis, born to my friend Mark and his wife, Jane, back home in Michigan. He gets the one on the left -- the one with the little blue puppy buttons. Two days later came Emily Anne-Marie, born to Jay and Lisa in Toronto. Emily gets the sweater on the right.

After a button-sewing session on Saturday, they're done -- and ready to be shipped out to the new little ones.

Then, while I was at it, I figured I'd finish that baby blanket that had been sitting around on the floor (the one that Paul told me needed to be moved). I wove in the ends, folded it up, and put it in the closet, to wait for the next of the babies. The picture is horrible -- so horrible, in fact, that Blogger won't let me upload it. So you'll just have to take my word for it that's done. It's square, and it's periwinkle (don't you love that word?), and it's done.

And, finally, I finished The Pillow. In the beginning, I spent a ton of time putting off making the pillow. But then, after Paul hinted a few times that it would be nice to have another pillow to go with the one I'd already made, I got started. Then we decided that the fur I was using just wasn't right, so I ripped it out and started it again. And then...finally...I finished knitting it. In a weekend. And then I let it sit on the living room floor for a month or two because I really didn't feel like sewing it together.

But I finally sucked it up and did it. Aren't you proud of me? I know I am. And so is Paul, who finally has his second pillow (it's the one on the right, joining the one I made, um, over a year ago).

So I finished four projects this weekend. Yea for me!

Yesterday, I was kicking it old school with the girlies. None of the current regulars were there, but Monday saw the return of the Fabulous Miss C, as well as the mysterious Miss H (who showed up an hour and a half late for our two-hour group, incidentally). It was wonderful to hang with the girls again. I'm hoping they'll all be back next week, and we'll have a nice big, happy group.

New Knitblogger!

And a happy Monday morning to you all! I've got a nice long post brewing -- complete with all kinds of pictures -- but I wanted to direct all of you to Mark's new blog. He's been busily cranking out scarves for the family -- and now he's blogging about it, too. I'm the proudest knitting teacher in the world. :) Check out the blog at knittingconfidential.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


It's another dark, rainy, yucky day here in C-town. The perfect kind of day to turn off the computer and take a nap. This has been one heck of a long week -- and, really, I could use a little snooze.

Paul left town for a couple of days on Monday morning. Normally, that means I spend my evenings working a little later than usual and then crashing out in my comfy pants and a sweatshirt in front of a chick flick with a glass of wine and some Minuteman Pizza. Or maybe Chinese from the place on the corner. But not this time. On Monday, I worked right up until I had to head to the store. It was a quiet week -- just me and Miss A -- but we had a lot of fun. After that, I ran straight out to Starbucks, where I had another knitting lesson (more on that later). I got home at 10ish and reheated some leftovers for a late-late dinner while chatting with Paul from his room in Chicago.

Tuesday was the most. Exhausting. Day. Ever. You may think that the life of a film critic is all popcorn and jujubes (and sure, sometimes it is). But try sitting through two long, painfully boring movies in one day. One was at 11 in the morning. I got home at 2, grabbed something to munch on, loaded up on caffeine, and headed out again at 5:30 to do it all over again. Once again, I got home around 10. Paul had just gotten in, so we had a much-needed drink before turning in.

So I took a little time off yesterday to chill with Chandra. We both needed a break -- me because I'd been sitting through bad movies, her because she'd been trapped inside recovering from a cold all week. But then it was back to work, after which I had to meet Paul and his colleague from Kuala Lumpur (one whom I didn't even meet when we were out there) for dinner, after which we had to go home, change, and run out the door to Paul's hockey game (they lost, but Paul scored a goal, so it wasn't all that bad...). We got home after 11.

Tonight, I might actually get to call it a day around 9. And tomorrow is the payoff: more hockey. Paul was sure to get tickets to see the Jackets play his beloved Maple Leafs -- in the Leafs' second-ever game at Nationwide Arena. For the occasion, I finally splurged on a Blue Jackets jersey. Yea Hockey! At least our chances of winning this one are decent -- since the Jackets have actually won *most* of their games so far this season. But you never know... At least one of us will leave the Arena happy tomorrow night, though, so that's nice.

Meanwhile, in knitting news: the Obnoxious Pink Sweater is coming along quite nicely -- though it's really not at a photographing moment right now. I'll be finished with the body soon -- then I'll take a picture. Right now, I'm thinking ahead, trying to decide whether I want to keep the sleeves straight or give them a little bell on the end...

I've also been keeping really busy spreading the knitting love. A couple of weeks ago, a colleague/friend decided that he was going to give the whole knitting thing a shot, after hearing me blab about it for so long -- so we set aside some time last Friday for his first lesson. After I had him working on the knit stitch for a while, I sent him home with some practice yarn and needles to play around with it and mess up as much as he wanted while figuring the whole thing out. Then we made plans to meet up again on Monday. When he arrived at Starbucks, he had three pages of questions written out. Fortunately, I think I was able to give him relatively satisfying answers. He's obviously taking the whole thing very seriously. He decided that he's going to knit, and he's going to knit. I was totally impressed. Considering I'm used to working with 10-year-old girls, I was totally surprised by his dedication and persistence.

Then the big moment arrived: time to start a real project. We got out some 11s and some super-bulky yarn, and he started on his first scarf. The goal: to knit scarves for his whole family for Christmas. He called all of them last week to ask them what their favorite color is -- and now they're all very suspicious. And I'm very happy to be in on it.

Despite a small glitch on Tuesday (followed by a covert knitting operation out of his trunk after the screening on Tuesday night), he's now on a roll. The last I heard, he was 10" into Scarf #1 -- and everything's finally clicking for him. Yea for New Knitters!

By next summer I guarantee he'll be packing up and heading to the Super Yarn Tent Sale. I can already see that little gleam in his eye. I've got him hooked, gang.

[Insert menacing cackle here]

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Desperate Knitter

Over the weekend, we learned what it was like to live in times when one had no real line of communication to the outside world, other than actually getting out and talking to real, live people. Apparently (or so the cable guy told me when he came to fix it), one of our neighbors decided to do a little digging without calling that underground-line-finder phone number first. And they snapped our cable. That meant we ended up with no TV, no phone, and no Internet -- for three whole days. That, my friends, is a long time to be without modern conveniences (or Desperate Housewives, which I watched online as soon as everything was back up and running). I figured it was only a matter of time until the power went out, too -- but, fortunately, that's still working.

Thanks for all of the anniversary wishes (and happy belated anniversary to Jeanne -- click over to see the beautiful bride on her wedding day). I was going through some of our wedding pictures on Friday morning, with every intention of posting a couple, when Paul walked in on me.

Him: "What are you doing?"

Me (a sheepish grin on my face): "I'm going through our pictures -- so I can put some on my blog."

Him: "Uh, you might not want to do that. The scanner's not doing too well. It'll make everything green."

So, for the sake of not appearing sick on my wedding day, I decided against posting a picture. But, just for the record, it was a lovely day in West Michigan. Crazy windy -- and it even snowed a little bit, or so I was told -- but a beautiful day nonetheless.

Paul took Friday off, but we didn't really have anything planned. In fact, he ended up mowing the lawn while I did the laundry. Then we went to the mall and bought him pants. And I got a bagel, which goes back to a pretty long story on my wedding day, the gist of which is that there was a long line at the bagel place, and I didn't want to be late for my hair appointment, so I went without breakfast. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't even beg anyone to get me a freakin' bagel. All I wanted was a bagel. My sanity and stability was all resting on my getting a bagel -- a streusel bagel with strawberry cream cheese, to be exact. The closest my mom would get was to offer me a bran muffin, which I thought was the last thing I needed on my wedding day. Eventually, my sister-in-law went out to get me a bagel -- but it was so late that I was already getting my makeup done, so I only got to eat a little bit of it. It's a miracle I didn't pass out.

So, five years later, I got myself a cinnamon crunch bagel with hazelnut cream cheese. And it was wonderful.

On Friday night, we went to what might have been the worst hockey game ever. I was planning on going out for drinks afterwards, but I was too depressed. So we bought a case of beer and went home to watch a movie. But, hey. It was a good night anyway.

Thanks to our lack of cable, we spent much of the weekend watching DVDs. We also learned to play a new game, took two walks around the neighborhood, went hiking around the Hocking Hills, and spent a lot of time being artsy. Paul worked on his latest drawing, while I did some knitting. Okay, I did a lot of knitting. I finally made it past the half-way point on the lace, and I started a sweater of my own creation. It's an obnoxious hot pink, but, as I learned with the obnoxious bright orange, obnoxious is my color. I'm sure I'll love it and wear it often -- as long as it turns out okay...

The plan is to make it a V-neck, with ribbed sleeves. It's actually based on one of my favorite old sweaters, which I still wear all the time. I figured I could use some variety. One gray, one pink. And this one won't be a men's large. I just divided for the sleeves last night, and I'm almost to the point of joining the front of the V.

On Monday, I decided to start a super bulky baby blanket while I was knitting with the girls. Just your average, run-of-the-mill, knit on the diagonal baby blanket on 15s. It looks small, but the sides are actually 19" already.

I figure if I use up some of my super-bulky yarn, it'll make it look like I'm using up more stash than I really am. Brilliant, don't you think? I'm almost at the end of the first skein. I think I'll be able to pull one out in three skeins -- which means I'll be able to do three baby blankets with the ten-skein bag I bought at the outlet in the spring.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mom Sometimes Listens

I talked to Mom last night, and, as is often the case, the subject of knitting came up. She told me she'd just finished a sparkly red scarf. I mentioned the Not Cute Bag that I'd finished for Kaari.

"And you finished my Christmas present," she noted.

"You didn't click on the link, did you?" I asked.

"No, but I saw it. And the note. Very funny."

"It's really cute," I told her. "I think you'll like it. Actually, I may have to wear it a few times before Christmas."

So Mom lamented the fact that everyone in the world gets to see what her sweater looks like -- except her. I'm just proud of her for not clicking the link. And, frankly, I'm a little surprised.

In other news...it looks like it's time to dig out the baby yarn again. While a few of my fellow film critics and I were sipping margaritas at Don Pablo's last night, discussing Jessica Simpson's inability to act, one of the guys announced that he's going to be a dad. Time to knit another baby sweater...!

And finally, my weekend begins in just a few hours. Yea! Tomorrow is our anniversary -- five whole years! Since new company policies left Paul with all kinds of vacation days that he has to use this year or lose, he's taking the day off. We don't really have anything planned, other than mowing the lawn and shopping for a sport coat for Paul. So what are we doing in the evening to celebrate five years of wedded bliss, you ask? Why we're going downtown, grabbing an early dinner, and heading off to the Blue Jackets opener. WOOHOO!

Seriously people, is my husband lucky, or what? It's our fifth anniversary, and I'm totally excited about spending it watching hockey. That Paul is a lucky, lucky man. :)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Kaari Doesn't Do Cute.

My soon-to-be-five-year-old niece, Kaari, is a tomboy to the extreme. And she's very adamant about it. Not long ago, when my mom was discussing the possibility of Kaari getting to decorate a room of her own, Mom suggested that they could find something really cute.

Kaari gave her a look of disdain and replied, "I don't do cute, Grandma."

So that left me with a challenge: I'd promised Kaari that I'd make her a felted purse for Christmas, but it couldn't be cute. So I had to wing it. She likes purple, so I went with purple. And she likes things with fur, so I went with fur. And it had to be big -- because she needs something to carry all of her coloring books and Matchbox cars. I started it on Thursday, and I finished it on Sunday. Gotta love a quick project! Here's what I got, pre-felting:

I was so eager to see how it turned out that I felted it on Monday night, and here she is -- Kaari's Not Cute Felted Purse:

All it needs now are a couple of not-cute decorative buttons and a little velcro.

So hey...speaking of FOs, wanna see the Fabulous Christmas Sweater? Click the link below.


Click here for the Christmas Sweater

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