Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ribbit

I did it. I frogged my mystery project and started from scratch. But this time I decided to start from the opposite end (at this point fellow knitters will likely be able to guess just what this mystery project is!) It took some time, but I think it was worth it, as I finally seem to have mastered the art of short rows. I'm very happy with the way this project is going (this time), and I know that it will knit up very quickly now that I've settled on my method.

Since I've been spending so much time in the evening knitting for others, I decided to pull Clappy out of hibernation and take it to work with me to knit during my lunch. I don't think that my desk chair is really the ideal place to knit (the arms really restricted my elbow movement), but it was nice to work on a project for myself for once. I'm about 2/3 of the way through my fourth repeat on the straight rows; I can't believe how slowly the repeats are going, because I consider myself a pretty quick knitter. I suspect that the fiber I'm using has something to do with it. The mercerized cotton has a nice sheet to it, but it likes to grip my needles, so I wind up stopping every dozen stitches or so to force the next group down on my needle. If I knit this pattern again, I will definitely use a softer yarn that will slide down the needle better.

This next part of my post isn't knitting related, but I just had to put it in because it's too ridiculous not to share:

When I got home from work last night I decided to be all productive and take care of my household chores. First I scrubbed my bathroom. No problem. The Softscrub smelled kind of weird, but okay. Then I decided to do a couple loads of laundry, since it's piling up. Fast forward about an hour and a half, after I've cooked dinner and frogged and restarted my mystery project. I go to retrieve my first load of laundry from the dryer, and discover that (I think) someone has opened the door during the cycle and not restarted, so the laundry is still wet. Grrr, I think. I pop in another dollar and run it again. Forty-five minutes later: I return, and make the same discovery. I run it again, and then run back to my apartment to make a sign ("PLEASE DO NOT OPEN DOOR!") which I then tape to the door of the dryer. After this third cycle is complete, I realize that no one has touched the door, the dryer is just broken and not heating up. But I still have a load of darks in the washer, and I need to put them through at least once so they won't be sopping wet. Long story short, I was up late trying to hang or lay out all this wet laundry. I even used my hairdryer to try to dry some of the smaller items. Grumble. You can bet that the first thing I did this morning was call the management company and tell them to fix this problem pronto!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Giving in to the knit gods

I did it. I caved. I totally overestimated my commuting time to work on Friday and wound up getting there 25 minutes early. Of course there was no way I was going to just sit in the back until it was time to clock in*, so of course I had to wander around the bookstore for a while. And of course that meant I had to wander around the crafts section, and of course hone in on the knitting books. Then something caught my eye -- that beautiful "20 % off - Members save an additional 10 %" sticker atop two delicious knitting books -- and I just had to have them. They were a deal, so I couldn't just leave them there right? Here are the two newest additions to my knitting library, at the low, low price of just under 21 bucks:



I so wanted to just sit down in the cafe and thumb through the books (i.e., publicly drool over future projects), but alas, it was almost time to clock in. I knew that if I took them to work with me, even if I did lock them up in my locker with my purse, I'd probably find times to sneak to the back and look through them, and that would not at all be conducive to actually getting work done and being a good team player. So I was a good girl and used my powers of foresight wisely: I promptly locked my books in my car, in the freezing parking lot. There was no way I was going to sneak out of work without a coat on, so I was safe from myself.

I've been working steadily on J's scarf for the past week. I made it to his house before he did on Wednesday night, so I knitted wildly for about an hour (while watching the original "Iron Chef" -- don't get me started on the dubbing -- on Food Network). I had to stash it in a grocery bag the minute I heard the garage door opening, because even though he's specifically requested a scarf in a dark gray, of course I don't want him seeing even the yarn until it's finished and he's opening the box in which it's been wrapped. This is the same reason I'm not posting any update pictures here either. I've gotten a little over two feet done, but I've discovered that I'll have to go back to the LYS for another skein. The two I have might have made it, where it not for the fact that I'm planning on felting the thing, and I know it'll lose significant length when I do. I'd much rather use even a part of a third skein than fight with it after it's been felted. I've decided to finish the scarf before I return to the mystery project, since it's one that'll knit up quickly (and isn't nearly such a pain in the ass as 7" by 6' seed stitch scarf).

While I've been knitting like a madwoman, I've been a horrible reader lately. I was all excited last week because it seemed like I was gaining momentum again with Villette. I even took it to J's with me for the long weekend, but there it sat, undisturbed, for the duration of said long weekend. Plus, I'm trying to catch up on my Newsweek reading before the new one arrives tomorrow, so that's become my bus reading of choice. This is so not like me to have a book just sitting there, unfinished -- especially one I'm enjoying. I guess my one reasonable excuse is this: Villette is not Jane Eyre. I suspect that Bronte really poured all her creative energy into the latter, which is probably one of my favorites. In essence, it's a relatively simple story: how an unwanted, plain, but good girl makes a life for herself. Yes, there are some rather absurd elements (mad wife in the attic, anyone?), but they are relatively brief and usually not when I think of when I think about this book. Villette just seems to me to be trying to fit into too many genres or too many literary trends. And what's with the fictitious country? As if anyone can't figure out immediately that she's ridiculing the French, my goodness.

Random rant for the day: I was all excited about wearing my new little jumper and two-tone shoes to work today. I even wore sneakers on the bus because I was worried it would rain and ruin the shoes. Then I get to work, slip them on, and discover that with hose on, they're about a half a size too big (I need pads to put in the front), and as a result I kept walking out of them as I walked around the office. To add insult to injury, I guess the seaming along the side wasn't done very well, and they've completely shredded my hose around the insides of my feet where the side of the shoes end. Grrrr.

*I suppose I should explain my cryptic references to work. By [week]day I'm a proofreader for a (ahem!) rather large employer in the city, but by evening and weekend I'm a retail maven at a national women's clothing store (let's just say that it's one that has several divisions, and I work in the younger/trendier/cheaper one). I started at the end of the summer when I was still looking for a full-time job, but now it's just a part-time gig to fund my clothes-whore habits. For a while there J kept asking if I was actually keeping anything I earned, or if I was just spending it all on clothes (gotta love the discount!); I figure I've only spent about half on clothes by now. Of course, what I haven't factored into my calculations is how much is being spent on yarn...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Dreaming of sweaters...

Happy Thanksgiving! (Or perhaps it's more accurate to say, Happy Black Friday!) I'm enjoying my second day in a row of sleeping in until 10 am -- something usually unheard of for me, at least not since college. I blame J and his oh-so-comfy king-sized bed.

I've been reading up on more blogs in the past few days, and I came across Grumperina's amazing site. I'm so in awe of her amazing progress and her appetite for really tricky projects. I wish I had her courage. Even though I'm more and more convinced that I could knit trickier patterns when I see all these relatively newer knitters doing them, I must still have some serious self-doubt when it comes to my own pattern-knitting ability. I'm vowing now to try something real (i.e., a sweater for myself) once I finish all these projects that are meant to be holiday gifts. I've got my eye on Lucky from SnBN (that's Stitch n Bitch Nation), which I drooled over while reading Tara's blog and watching her progress. I've just got to find the book now. I got this great idea the other day to walk over to the Carnegie library during my lunch break for it, but of course it was checked out. As were the copies from every other branch remotely close to me. I guess it's a sign that I should really be focusing on my current projects before I dive in to something big for myself.

So, to review my WIPs:

1) Felted scarf for J (don't expect to see any pictures posted until after it's completed and has been gifted -- just in case a certain someone is snooping around here to try to peek!)

2) Mystery item -- again, pictures will not be posted until after complete and revealed to intended recipient. Let's just say it's on dpns and involves some short rows.

3) Clapotis (I'm now calling her "Clappy") for myself, in Saucy claret. Now on hold until after holiday gifts are done. Still very temping, and definitely an easy pattern to follow while watching TV.

4) Cabled tube scarf in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Almost done, but, again, temporarily put on hold.

I thought I would have a lot of time to knit this weekend, but alas, it seems it is not to be and I probably won't pick up my needles again until Sunday evening. I have to work at my second job today and tomorrow (which should be insane -- I'm wondering if I'll see any crazed shoppers fighting over sweaters or something!), and then J and I have dinner plans both evenings. Sunday is really my only day off, but lucky me gets to spend it doing fun stuff like grocery shopping and laundry. So here's my plan: I'm keeping my reading (100 pages left in Villette!) for my bus rides and lunch at work, so that I can spend my evenings knitting. Mystery item is a pretty fast knit, so that can probably be finished up by the end of the week. J's scarf is 39 stitches in seed stith, so needless to say it takes a while. I've gotten about a foot done, but I've got to make it longer than intended because of the felting. I have a feeling it will be taking up the majority of my time in the weeks to come.

Okay, off to get ready for work. I feel I need to add that even though I haven't been able to actually knit the past few days, I have sure been dreaming about it. The past two nights I've dreamt about knitting sweaters.... Whoever said that we dream about our desires sure got it right on this one!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Envy... and new projects

I've spent a lot of down time in the past week reading knitting blogs and getting quite envious of what other knitters are doing. I pretty much started salivating at some of their fo's (finished objects) -- especially when they were able to work with nice, fancy yarn that frankly I can't afford, at least not when I'm just putzing around. (Click here and here for two of my current faves in blog reading.)

I also discovered a new favorite pattern website -- Knitty.com -- which, perhaps unsurprisingly, J discovered before me. (Wow, he must really like me to be spending his free time researching knitting topics!) After browsing through the current issue and the archives, I've started my lastest excited-to-knit-it-but-it'll-probably-just-sit-in-my-closet project, the oh-so-francais clopatis, in Saucy claret. (Isn't that just the most delicious name? I probably would have bought it for the name alone, aside from the fact that it fell nicely into my price range when I was searching for clopatis yarn)

I suppose I should back up and mention that after reading all those blogs and finding all those lovely patterns, I just had to go make a trip to Knit One to stock up on yarn. Bought the Saucy claret (mentioned above), as well as some Cascade 220 in a dark gray to make a felted wool scarf for J for the holidays and some other mystery yarn for another project I'm planning to undertake. It really is amazing how much time I can spend in that store, and oh my, do I want to just buy everything. Found a fabulous alpaca/cashmere yarn that would have been perfect for J's scarf, but I don't think he would have approved of my spending nearly $30 a hank on it. After that, the mercerized cotton Saucy looked like steal! Plus, it'll wash well and still have that nice sheen to it.

Spent the weekend at J's, and he was very pleased to see me using my Jordana Paige bag. I was on my own most of Saturday (J went to test drive cars), so I got a lot of knitting time in. I'm through about 3 rounds of the straight rows of the clopatis, and I'm loving the effect of the dropped stitches. I'm interested to see how this patter works out with other fibers (from really chunky yarns to crochet thread). I'll have to hold off on those experiments for a while, though, until I finish up the holiday presents.

For anyone who is wondering about it, no, I have not finished my cabled baby cashmerino scarf. Here is the current progress:
I've got less than the last skein of yarn to go, but I've been more excited by the latest projects I've started, so I've sort of let it fall by the wayside. I'm justifying it to myself by thinking that since the weather's gotten so cold, I haven't been wearing the coat I wanted this to go with in the first place. I've resolved to finish it once and for all before the end of 2005, because frankly this is a smaller project and I just can't deal with the amount of time this is taking me -- I'm a fast knitter! This project is totally bringing down my average time to complete a project.

Still reading Villette; hoping that with the holiday weekend coming up, there will be a lot of time for reading and stitching.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Better Late Than Never...

Yes, I had completely genuine intentions when I started my blog. Yes, I have been delinquent in posting since my very first post. No, I have not been delinquent on purpose. In the past week I've started my new job -- I'm still at the part-time gig as well -- and the new schedule has not only thrown me for a loop, it's also left me little time for knitting.

As promised, here is a picture of the felted bag I described in my first posting. It's made from three skeins (give or take) of Cascade wool yarn -- my first foray into knitting with wool. Usually I stick with good old acrylic (it's cheap, wears well, and doesn't shrink in the wash). I have to say, though, that I was very pleased with this first woolen experiement. It did shrink, but really only in length, and it came out nice and fuzzy. I'll probably have to do some more work until I'm comfortable knitting any clothing other than scarves, but I am no longer afraid of working with "fancy" yarn.

Since the bag was completed, I also finished my interim project: a basketweave pattern shrug/shawl type thing. It's basically like a big scarf to wrap around my shoulders. I used the cheap acrylic yarn I was just talking about (I had a bunch left over from when I made my mother a wrap sweater). All I have left to do is find a big pin of some sort to secure it. Here's a picture of it, since I likely didn't do a very good job of describing it.

Now I'm back to working on my baby cashmerino scarf, as my two additional balls of yarn finally came in this past week. I've been wearing my chocolate brown suede coat a lot lately, and I'm anxious to get it done so I can wear the outfit as originally intended. My goal is to knit like a fiend this week so I can get it done; in my opinion, eight months is way too long to work on a scarf, even if it is cabled!