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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Surprise

The Baby Surprise is seamed, buttoned, and ready to go. I realized last night that if it was going to make it to PA for the shower on Sunday, I would have to finish it, pack it up, and overnight it to my mom today for arrival on Friday so she could then take it to the surprise shower for my cousin on Sunday. Ooops. At some point today, I looked outside and realized that the snow that had been falling since morning and was going to continue to fall through the night was likely to make overnight delivery very unlikely. Ooops again. (Insert the sound of a hand smacking a forehead.)

I started Fantine on Tuesday. It is nearly done, with just the second sleeve to go. I may end up frogging and re-knitting a good portion of the body because I'm not sure the placement of the short-rows for bust shaping are in the optimal location. Because it is top-down construction and there aren't shoulder seams, I think it might slide forward a bit which would put the short-rows lower than they need to be, and one certainly doesn't need things pooching out under one's bust, that's for sure. I'm going to finish the second sleeve before making that decision, though. Since it is knit with 17s (and do they ever feel weird after using 0s-4s for most of my projects during the past year), it won't take too long to fix if necessary.

Yesterday, while walking back from my dentist's office in the very, very cold Lake Michigan wind, I passed a little coffee shop halfway between there and my house. I'd been in once before, but since I hardly ever take the El and I don't normally walk that direction, I'd forgotten all about it. In need of something warm and feeling fairly confident that the Novocain had worn off to the point that I wouldn't drool, I stopped for a cappuccino. When I travel, I find that I am often charmed by quirky local cafes, boutiques, etc., yet places here at home don't seem to resonate in the same way, mostly due to familiarity, I suppose. When I walked in, despite the fact that CTA trains rumbled directly overhead, I felt like I was somewhere else, maybe Seattle or Vancouver. Adding to the charm, there was someone knitting at a table in the back. Finding this great little escape just a short walk from my backyard was a pretty fantastic surprise.

Friday, January 25, 2008

If Knitting is the New Yoga...

...then why is my butt so big?!
I have been going to either a yoga or Pilates class 3-4 times a week for the last few weeks, and I got up and got dressed this morning with the intention of going to a yoga class. My garage door had other plans. The electronic eye has always been super-sensitive, and the cold seems to make it more so. It can take several tries until the door goes all the way down and stays there. Today, the remote would open the door but not close it. The only way to close it was to use the wall switch, but because the eye is so sensitive, I couldn't push the switch and run for it because the door would go back up if I did. After 10 minutes of this nonsense, I packed it in and went back inside. In the city, I won't risk leaving the door up even for a few minutes. Someone once dug a hydrangea bush out of my backyard, so I'm pretty sure the contents of the garage would walk if opportunity presented itself.

No yoga meant more knitting. As a result, the Baby Surprise is now blocking. Once it dries, I can seam up the top of the sleeves and finish the neckline and off it goes! (The colors look funky on my monitor; in actuality, the yellow is more of a spring green, and the turquoise and bright green aren't so prominent.)

I have started, frogged and re-started the Hi-Top Booties. On first pass, I decided that I could make a few mods that might benefit the design. I'll let you know how they turn out. Once I finish them, I will be out of the seemingly endless baby wear phase.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Negativity

It is -4 degrees according to the Weather Pixie on the screen and I believe her. Most of my house stays fairly warm in winter--and in summer due to a lack of a/c--but, in typical Chicago fashion, it has porches on the back that were converted to enclosed rooms at some point over the decades. Our computer is in the back room/former porch upstairs and it is nippy up here. My toes and fingers get quite chilly as does the tip of my nose, so computer time is limited these days.

Curtailed computer time means more knitting time, and I have (finally) finished the socks for my niece. For any number of reasons, these were so tedious. It was really the first time that I truly feared the onset of SSS, but they were promised as a gift, so apathy was not an option. I don't love the pooling, and the crossover rib pattern isn't great with this yarn, but I'm hoping she will like them anyway. I also wasn't crazy about the yarn itself. It looked and felt better in the skein than it did while I was working with it. This kid grows like a weed, so she'll be out of them in no time.


As soon as the socks were bound off, I immediately cast on an EZ February Baby Sweater. It only took a few days from start to finish. It would have taken less time but EZ's directions can be, um, skeletal though the pattern is lovely. I also had to tink a few times because I can't count to 7. Thanks to the magic of Ravelry, I scoped out other knitters' projects and made a few mods, including making it totally seamless and not putting in buttonholes all the way down. I am quite happy with it. More details are on Ravelry.

I found out last night that the gender of my cousin's baby will not be known before her shower, so the February sweater is going to my friend Kelli's new daughter Emelia. I know a boy could wear this sweater, but I had visions of it languishing in a drawer because the lace pattern might be considered too feminine should my cousin have a boy. On the other hand, I spoke to my aunt last night, and she wants a granddaughter so badly that she has bought stacks of dresses; this kid may have nothing else to wear but girls' clothing. In an effort to be gender-neutral, I have resurrected the once-frogged Baby Surprise and that will be my gift. It's going quickly, so I may have this finished by the end of the week and it will get there in time for the shower.

I have one more immediate baby project, a pair of Baby Chuck Hi-Top Booties in Illini colors for my former co-worker. I hope to whip through those by the end of the weekend so I can get to some things for me. I have a growing list of projects, as evidenced by my queue in Ravelry, and some upcoming self-imposed deadlines.

My nose is starting to get numb, so it's time to log off. To paraphrase Brenda Dayne, if it is as cold where you are as it is here, put on a sweater--that's what they're for!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

If I Start Knitting Now and I Live to 100...

...I will never complete the projects in my Ravelry queue, never mind the ones that Ravelry couldn't find. There are 168 of them in there and about 40 that I need to add to the database. YEEE-IKES!

So, how did the list get so long? This weekend I went through ALL of my knitting books, magazines, and binders (except the last few months' worth of magazines) and cataloged every project that I might consider making. (Well, I didn't count baby patterns; I generally choose a pattern based on the parents and their style, so I peruse those as the babies appear or threaten to appear.) I purged any magazine devoid of useful patterns. Let me tell you, the early 90s were not always kind to the knitter as my intense review revealed.

A few things did come to light:
  • I am so glad I never got around to making some of those ugly-ass projects that I put post-its on.
  • Back in the 90s, Nora Gaughan and Teva Durham were doing work that could be published today and no one would know they were old patterns. Each designer has a distinctive style that has the ability to weather trends.
  • I have kept all of my Interweave Knits. Even if the issue does not have a pattern that speaks to me, the layouts and the photography are elegant.
  • Other magazines have not withstood the test of time nearly so well. Some editors and designers slept around with too many novelty yarns. (Very judicious use of novelty yarns is allowed in my world, but it's like Brylcreme (or is it Dippity Do?): a little dab'll do ya.)
  • I am a book, magazine and pattern ho. I am going to be listing books on Amazon and leaflets on eBay in the near future.
  • I need to be equally critical of my stash; I should lighten the load there, too. There are some yarns that I will never, ever use, so why am I holding on? (Note to self: sale does not mean it's a bargain if you have no idea what to do with it!)
  • I want a queue for everything, especially for cookbooks and recipes. (Maybe there is one that I don't know about.) I probably have about 200 cookbooks and countless clipped recipes. Unless I have used the recipe before or have made a mental note to try a specific dish, most of my cookbooks don't get any action. If I had a recipe queue, I could do what I did this weekend on Ravelry. Hmmm, I feel like chicken. What's in my queue and where can I find it? These days, I end up Googling a dish or checking various food websites if I have a hankering for something. I know I could make my own database with the name of the dish, featured ingredients, and the source, but that could take forever. So, why do I even have cookbooks if I'm not going to utilize them? After all, when I use recipes, I tend to go to the same ones. My copy of New York Cookbook is about to fall apart, as is The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that is nearly as old as I am. But I digress...

Frankly, it's a little disconcerting to think that my project list may outlive me. On the other hand, I suppose it's good to have goals. Oh, and please don't judge me by the contents of my queue. I mean, it's not like I'm ever going to get around to making those 40 felted bags, and really, would I want to?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

6 D 7

Today I was out tooling around with SA, popping into some yarn shops in Evanston, indulging our inner gourmands at The Spice House (White Truffle Salt--my new love!), picking up coffee and tea at Peet's (their Decaf Sumatra beats the pants off any other decaf), having a Macrobiotic Plate at Blind Faith (thank you for bringing back the original vinaigrette for the steamed kale that you claimed you hadn't changed but you did even though you denied it on multiple previous visits), and stopping by Hancock's where holiday cottons were 75% off (hello, adorable holiday hostess apron for next year's Christmas Eve Party with the Feinsteins and the Cohens), when I looked down at the dash on the Jetta to discover--both to my delight and horror--that it was 67 degrees in Chicago on January 8! On one hand, how great was it to be out and about with no coat on?! On the other hand, yikes! This warm front did produce some pretty spectacular lightning this evening, but unseasonably warm weather is unsettling. I don't crave negative numbers, but a little nip in the air is appropriate. Sixty-seven?! Now that sends a chill down my spine. (So does that run-on sentence up there. Eh, go ahead, call the blog grammar police.)

Speaking of grammar police, does anyone else watch as much Law and Order on TNT as I do? (Tivo makes me watch, I swear!) Didya notice the ads for the Golden Globes? Our Friend the Apostrophe was making an unscheduled appearance in the spots they were running. The ad has since been corrected, but Hollywood was holding "it's" breath for a while. It reminded me of the Christmas when all of the windows at Marshall Field's boasted that the department store had "what your wishing for." They later managed to fit in an apostrophe and an e, but it looked all squishy. Oh, Apostrophe, you devilish little trickster!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Finally...

I received my last installment of the Rockin' Sock Club this month and in it was a grading scale based on how many pairs had been completed. I am ashamed to say that I had made NO pairs from either RSC or the Woolgirl club during the year--sad, sad, sad. Nonetheless, I was determined to rectify the situation before 2007 had bid its goodbye, so I cast on Thursday and finished a pair on New Year's Eve. I present the Inside Out! Socks in the Monsoon colorway:
These socks had caused a bit of consternation out there. Quite a few people had trouble with the fit because the cabling made it tough to get over one's heel. There are advantages to being a slacker, though. I was able to benefit by the trials and errors of others and picked up on a key mod which was handily available in a thread on Ravelry. The pattern is written for the toe to be worked on a size 1 and the balance knit on 0. A few clever folks suggested switching to a 2 on the leg for a looser fit which is what I did to a great result. I was really happy with the striping on the foot. Because of the change in needle size, the striping didn't continue on the leg, but I'm still quite thrilled. The change in needle size did necessitate an emergency call to my husband who walks by a LYS on his way home from the train. Just as I was about to start the leg, I discovered that I either did not have or could not locate size 2 circs. Fortunately, I called his cell just as he was at the corner where the LYS is located and he was able to pick up some Addi Turbos for me--whew.

I hope to finish all of the 2007 RSC socks by the end of the month, though given some other projects on the horizon, that may be too ambitious. I also have three pairs from Woolgirl to tackle--and RSC is shipping the first package of 2008 this month, so I had better get on the (pointy) stick!

This weekend, we had charge of our friends' 10-year-old son. Due to some behavioral and attention issues, this kid can be a handful. I was determined to keep him happy and occupied, so I taught him finger knitting. In the past, he has mentioned that he would like to learn to knit, so I thought this would be a good starting place and would get him used to controlling the yarn. Manual dexterity is not a strong suit for him, and I wanted him to feel like he could master a process without having too many things to keep track of. When we were in the house, if he wasn't sleeping or eating, he was making his chains. The finger knitting kept his attention focused and we had a great weekend with no problems or meltdowns which kept everyone happy. Apparently, he has been proudly gifting people with his creations and he now needs to make more to keep up with demand!

In other matters, this is what we woke up to this morning:

I love it when the snow collects on the trees. (The first pic is the view across the street from my front porch and the last one is a bottle tree in my backyard.) It was a beautiful way to start the new year.