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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Slush Puddle

Maybe it's the lack of natural daylight, maybe it's the cold temps, but I am running at slow speed these days. We've had a cold winter so far, but only a couple of good snowfalls. Here in the city, things get gray, brown, and, thanks to our canine friends, yellow very quickly, so winter is just not aesthetically pleasing in these parts. It's a challenge to find inspiration. After all, who wants a handpainted yarn called Frozen Mud or Slush Puddle? (Actually, I might go with Slush Puddle...)
There is a BSJ winging its way to Estonia this week. A friend's sister had her first baby a few weeks ago, so I used that as an excuse to make something quick and cute. The baby lives in Sweden, so I hope that the package gets to his uncle in Tallinn and his uncle gets it to him in Sweden before he outgrows it! (It's BMFA STR Medium in Stonewash and Lucy, by the way.)
Speaking of Estonia, I am hoping to visit the country in fall. I've been increasingly fascinated with their knitting history and culture for some time, and I have quickly assembled an impressive library of knitting books and pamphlets, many in Estonian. (Fortunately, their patterns rely heavily on charts rather than the written word, and there are translations for some books available.) When I found out that my Swedish friend now lives in Tallinn, well, the wheels got to turning. I found a group of Irish knitters on Ravelry who are planning an Estonian knitting retreat, and I jumped on the bandwagon. If it all works out, I hope to do the retreat as well as spend a few days with my friend in Tallinn and perhaps hop over the Baltic to Stockholm. (The flights I was looking at stop in Stockholm anyway, so it shouldn't be too hard to manage, I hope.)
I've decided not to go to Blue Moon's Sock Camp this spring. I may come to regret that decision, as I'm already missing some of the friends I know will be there. I suppose I might come to change my mind...
What's coming up? A serious UFO evaluation is in the offing. Serious. And a destash. Good stuff coming to my Ravelry destash page soon. I've got a few weeks before the Olympics and the Opening Ceremony cast-on of my Laminaria, so I hope to fit in a project or two (maybe I should just finish something that's already started!)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Knitting Catch-up

So, there was some knitting. I started a Multnomah Shawl (twice, actually, but I didn't love the first one), but it has stalled.
I made fingerless mitts for my Grandmother for Christmas because she said her hands got cold when she was watching TV or reading. I figured this way she could still turn the pages or use the remote.

My cousin's daughter got a pair of Little Snugs. Not hard to make, but you essentially have to knit them twice as the lining is almost identical to the outside.

They look like a dog's breakfast before felting, but they looked great after. (And don't let people tell you that you can't felt in a front loader. Add some old flip flops or washable sneakers and felt away. My washer has a pause button, and because the water level is actually below the door, I can open it and check in on things mid-cycle. Sure, there are a few drips, so I put an old towel on the floor first.)

I made the first of my 5 Maximus Cowls. My other cousin seems to like getting handknit items for Christmas, so she got a Maximus in the same yarn (Malabrigo Aquarella in the Indy colorway) as the Cat Hat she got last year. Did I take a picture? Um, no.

Three of the remaining cowls were for moi (accessory ho!), and one for my friend, Sandra.

There have been a few other various and sundry items (a hat for a friend, a fraternal twin to that hat which I thought might be too big, so I wear it kinda slouchy myself, etc.) The house is strewn with half-finished first socks, sweater pieces, top-down sweaters that need arms, etc.
I am on a mitten kick at the moment. I have set about collecting mitten patterns from around the world. The mail lady definitely has some questions about the sudden onslaught of packages from Estonia, I'm sure. I don't know what set it off, but it is here to stay for a little while. Right now I've got some Finnish mittens that need to be finished! (Sorry!!!)
The Ambien I took three hours ago still has not kicked in, so I may be off to Internet shoe shop, a common cure for insomnia around these parts...

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Only Rock and Roll...

So, like I was saying…

Hmm, when I step back, I really step back, yeah? Well, turns out I was having too much fun in October and November to blog, and then December happened, and December is all December-y, and, well, if it isn’t about the holidays, it just isn’t happening.

So, what was all this fun I was talking about? I took a really fun trip to the east coast. I flew into Philly and spent several days visiting my grandparents, my mom, my brother, and my friend, Amy, and her brood. I also met up with some old h.s. friends at a local bar that I had never actually been to back when I lived in PA. On Oct. 14, I drove back down to Philly to see Bruce Springsteen at the second of his final four shows at the now-retired Spectrum. (The only other concert I’d ever been to there was--get this--Barry Manilow when I was 13. Big difference!) It was a great show featuring the entire Darkness on the Edge of Town album. It was fantastic to see him in Philly, which, being right across the river from Jersey, has always claimed Bruce as an honorary son. It was so incredibly loud--the loudest show I have ever been to--and at one point I reached down to feel the tops of my boots vibrating!

The next morning I took Amtrak to NYC to spend two days with my old roommate, Tim, and his partner. I got to see a few other college friends, too, and had a fantastic time. Then it was back on Amtrak to spend a few days with my friend, Adele, and her family. Adele is a designer and artist, and her husband is a theater professor, so you can only imagine how quirkycoolsmart their 7-year-old son is. I love this kid! Among other things, we spent the weekend devising scents for an imaginary candle company that specializes in the scents of Medieval times. I know…weird. And totally so much fun. And, oh, I went to Webs.

October brought a return to the PNW, and yet another reunion of sorts with a h.s. friend. I hadn’t seen my friend Jim in 16 years, and had never met his wife and children. A visit with them to their home in Seattle was a great way to start the week. From there, I traveled up to San Juan Island for my second retreat with Cat Bordhi. This year my friend, Liz, was also there, and a great time was had by all. The Lakedale Resort was beautiful, with lots of paths through the woods to walk and reflect. So many nice people, and, of course, the wonderful Cat leading the way.

I saw The Boss three more times in November: in Milwaukee, Nashville, and the last show of the tour in Buffalo. (I also saw a Bruce Hornsby in a solo show out in the ‘burbs.) Milwaukee was a fantastic show--even the husband had a good time--and the band was in great form. The next morning--I kid you not--I had coffee with members of Megadeth and Slayer (okay, not with so much as adjacent to) who were staying at the same hotel. If you think metal musicians spend their morning coffee time talking about drugs, sex, and rock and roll, you’re wrong; they talk about wanting to lose another 10 lbs., where they can get a pair of jeans tailored, and where the nearest bookstore is. Sorry if that totally blows the illusion. Three days later, my friend, Sandra, and I had GA tix in Nashville. We did the whole afternoon-long lottery process hoping to get into the pit, but it was not to be. We made friends with three young guys from England who had spent all the money they had (and some they didn’t) to come over for the show. While we were all licking our wounds from not getting in the pit, they told us about all the European festivals they went to over the summer. We did our best to not look like scary cougar-types, though their accents were most adorable. Besides, we’re both married and probably old enough to be their mothers. Fate smiled upon us, though, and we not only found a great spot on the floor right behind the pit, but we got to touch Bruce Springsteen. Oh, yeah, my left hand was dripping with Boss sweat. (Some of you may not find that as appealing as I do, but it will go down as a lifetime highlight for me, to be sure.)

By the end of the night, I decided that I wasn’t done living the groupie life, so when I got back to Chicago, I started scoping the secondary market for a Buffalo ticket. On Saturday morning, I got up and packed a bag in anticipation, and reserved a flight to Buffalo for that night. (I had a freebie coming on Southwest, and their supremely awesome cancellation policy meant that I could change my mind up to an hour before the flight was to leave and keep my free ticket.) After watching for a single ticket all morning (and reluctantly ruling out a good one available for $900 and not wanting to sit in the rafters for $300 if I could avoid it), just after noon a great ticket popped up in my location-to-price comfort zone. Now, if you’ve ever bought a ticket on the secondary market the day before a show, you may already understand how this works, but it was crazy to me. The broker calls the ticket holder who confirms the availability of the ticket. The ticket holder then contacts the buyer with details on how to do the pick-up. I flew to Buffalo with the cell phone number of “TixGuy” and a tentative arrangement to call him the day of the show to get the ticket. It was a little nervous making, but in the end, I was able to spot his burgundy sedan, and he recognized my green scarf, and the connection was made. It was an amazingly good show and such a fun time. I know there was at least one fellow Raveler in the crowd as she and I exchanged messages in the Backstreets Board on Ravelry. I also met another Raveler at a bar before the show. I was standing there waiting for my drink and struck up a conversation with a couple at the bar. Turns out she was a knitter from Toronto. (Neither she not I was sporting any knitwear to give us away, so it was a pretty interesting coincidence.)

Um, any knitting happened during all of this? Honestly, not too much, but I will post about that next.