Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blanche-Neige has cold feet

Now that the time crunch of the Olympics is over and I'm under no pressure to actually finish Blanche-Neige, of course I can only think of one thing: socks.

Socks have been my knitting obsession for the past couple of months, and other than the yarn purchased for Blanche-Neige, my only stash additions have been been of fingering weight. Tonight is no exception. I just placed a Knit Picks order for about 14 balls of sock yarn. Before you start thinking that I'm going to have a pair of socks for every day of the week, let me set the record straight -- not all of the socks I imagine I'm going to knit is for me. J has been wearing his socks around the house (apparently only on the days I'm not there), and has officially put in a request for more. So we spent some time over the weekend going through my new favorite knitting book, Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, and picking out patterns. J really likes the Gentleman's Fancy Socks and Gentleman's Plain Winter Sock (although personally I don't think either is particularly manly and might make a pair of each for myself). He'll be getting one pair in gray and one pair in burgundy -- presumably to wear with his scarf. As for me, my heart is set on Child's First Sock, which of course will have to be lengthened to fit my freakishly long feet. Sigh! Such lovely socks! Such happy feet!

But now it's on to work on Blanche-Neige sleeve #2 and the Gilmore Girls. And hoping that J can get through on the phone in spite of the horrid cell phone reception he must be getting on the ski slopes at Vail.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday Monday

This morning I woke up to a lovely surprise: my second migraine in as many months. Joy. I noticed my vision was going (my first symptom) while I was drying my hair, and by the time I was down to about 50% of my visual field I called in sick and crawled back into bed to try to sleep it off.

By mid-afternoon I was feeling well enough to sit up on the couch, watch "The English Patient," and finish whipping up this:

(Yes, I'm aware this isn't the most attractive picture. Keep in mind I've been in my pj's lying around all day, and the hat had just come off the needles.)

Pattern: Odessa by Grumperina
Yarn: JoAnn Sensations Bellezza Collection Dolcetto (54% wool, 24% nylon, 22% cotton) in color 4/Blue
Needles: Addi Turbo US 7 16" circs (ribbed band), Inox US 8 16" circs (hat), Pony US 8 dpns (finishing)
Mods: Obviously I omitted the beading. I tried to find the Rowan Cashsoft DK the pattern calls for, but was unsuccessful, so I decided to try using this yarn I had lying around from a trip to the closing JoAnn's. I also changed the needle size to account for the difference in yarn. Although the stitch definition isn't as good as the Rowan would be, this yarn is supersoft and makes a very cozy hat. It's a bit on the delicate/fuzzy side, so I didn't want to try the beads (I was afraid they'd shred up the yarn too much). My one complaint about this yarn is that it gives off a really odd smell when wet -- I know this'll sound crazy, but it kinda smells like smoked turkey! I have two more balls of this stuff (in pink and yellow), destined to be matching hats for my two awesome cousins in Chicago, who much admired my cabled cashmerino scarf last weekend.

Tonight the plan is to continue to lay low (so as not to incite the headache gods) and cast on for Blanche-Neige sleeve number two, the goal being to complete it by the end of the week. At this very moment, J is taking off (in a plane, that is) for a 3-day trip to Vail, so I'll have a lot of me time this week.

Congrats to those Olympic knitters -- including Jane and Jill -- who successfully completed their projects! Next time I'll know to pick a more realistic pattern.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

No Gold

The time has come to finally admit it to myself: I am not going to finish Blanche-Neige by the end of the Olympics. In fact, if we want to be totally accurate, in real time the closing ceremonies have already concluded; the Olympic flame has been been extinguished; and I am one sleeve, two front/collar borders, and much seaming short of completion. So there will be no gold for me. I am choosing to think of myself as the Michelle Kwan of the Knitting Olympics, bowing out gracefully after admitting that yes, I probably was overly ambitious and tried to push myself further than I could realistically go (especially considering I work two jobs, was away one weekend, and have a wonderfully supportive boyfriend who nevertheless was none too fond of the knitting needles getting in the way of togetherness time).

Although part of me is disappointed that I didn't finish, most of me is very proud for making the attempt in the first place. I had admired this pattern for a while, but without the challenge inherent in the event I likely would never have actually knitted it. This is also the very first sweater I've ever knit, and I'm proud of myself for choosing a pattern I loved, but one that wasn't so simple that I was ever bored or complacent. I am really pleased with how all the pieces have turned out thus far, and I'm really looking forward to wearing the finished project.

For those who are keeping track, by the end of the Olympics I finished the back, the two fronts (sans borders, which will be picked up and knit after these pieces are sewn to the back), and -- just this evening -- one sleeve. Here is the latter, blocking (don't you think it looks like the same shape as an ice cream float?):

Now that I'm no longer under a time crunch, I am not in a rush to finish the other sleeve; in fact, I'm not even going to cast on for it tonight. I've decided to take a short break and give myself some (nearly) immediate gratification by knitting myself a hat before I pick up the Addis and move on to the final piece. I am still worried I don't have enough yarn, and if that's the case I'll need to wait until 3/17 for Knit Picks to get more in stock before I can finish.

To all of you Olympic Knitters out there, whether or not you finished your projects, I hope you're feeling as satisfied and content as I am this evening. We may not be athletes, who wow the world with feats of great strength or endurance or style, but we certainly showed that we are worthy competitors. I think we all really embodied the true spirit of the Olympics -- that of unity and mutual celebration of something we love. Knit on!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

3 of 5 done

Blanche-Neige is moving right along. I finished and blocked the Right Front last night, and then started in on sleeve #1 with a nearly new ball of yarn (leaving five full balls untouched). Here's the progress so far on the sleeve:



The patterning is a little more complicated on the sleeve as far as following the chart goes. Because of the increases on each end of the row, I'm actually having to follow stitches at the end of the row on the right-side rows. I don't know if that makes any sense, but let's just say there are lots of sticky notes involved (used to mark my place). I guess as long as I know what I'm doing, it doesn't matter if I can't articulate it very well.

In other news, I'm anxiously awaiting my shipment from Barnes & Noble containing this and this. I bought both with the gift card I got as a reward from the wonderful people at My Points. Basically the way it works is that they send you e-mails with offers from Web sites, and you earn points by clicking on links to those sites, taking advantage of the special offers, or even shopping through the site. Then you can redeem your points for all sorts of gift cards and other rewards. I usually use mine for B&N gift cards; I'm still waiting for them to offer yarn or gift cards to my LYS. ;-)

Finally, did anyone else see this in this week's TIME?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Some progress

I do have knitting content in this post, but let me first tell about the weekend (knitting went with me, so this is relevant!)

J and I took a very quick trip -- with my parents and brother -- to Evanston, Ill., for a surprise party for my cousin and his wife (happy 30th, A & S!). Right from the get-go, there were complications. First, I woke up Saturday morning and looked outside, only to see a serious dusting of snow. Which was not in the forecast, by the way. Then J calls me to say that he checked the flight on his BlackBerry, and it was cancelled. So I called my parents, and then called Southwest, and we were told that we might be able to get on the 2:15 flight, provided we get to the airport before our original flight was due to leave (12:15). We schlepped out to the airport, did get seats on the plane, and then found ourselves having to wait, oh, about three hours. The good news was that I did get in a fair amount of knitting while we sat and waited (I finished one front piece of Blanche-Neige during the flight).

Our flight was really quite good (and that's saying a lot, because I'm horribly afraid of flying and pretty much freak out if I don't have someone to hold my hand and calm me down). I give most of the credit to the highly entertaining flight attendants and their sharp sense of humor. It also helped that the flight was very smooth and we arrived about 10 minutes early. But the drama was not over. Oh no. We got our bags and made our way out to the rental car place located in the parking garage -- which I should mention was open, and the temperature was about, oh, 6 degrees. Fahrenheit. I kid you not. We were all bundled up, and I thought I'd be able to tough it out since they told us our white Impala would be right now. And don't you know, someone else drove off in our car? Grrr. Or rather, brrrr. Fortunately they found another car for us relatively quickly, but not before I transformed into a popsicle.

We drove through downtown Chicago and then had some time to rest in the hotel before heading over to the restaurant and awaiting to surprise A and S, who thought they were meeting my cousin L (A's younger sister) and her boyfriend for dinner because he was visiting from out of town. Boy, were they surprise. S actually started crying, while A looked liked he wanted to strangle someone (funny how different reactions to surprise can be). They both had a good time, though, once they got over the initial shock. The highlight of the night for me -- other than seeing my aunt, uncle, and cousins for the first time in about 2 1/2 years -- was seeing J get hypnotised. Yep, you read that right. My aunt and uncle brought in a hypnotist for the evening's entertainment, and my sweetie went into a trance and did all sorts of silly things he doesn't remember. We are now calling him Macho Man after watching him flexing his muscles as the most manly-man in the world. Poor guy still has a bit of a sore throat from overdoing his Godzilla remake movie audition. ;-)

Sunday was a beautiful day, and we had brunch at my aunt and uncle's before heading to the airport. Where our flight was delayed. Oy. The good news was that we apparently had such strong tailwinds that we were traveling at about 700 miles per hour (or so the pilot told us), and although we left about 45 minutes after we were scheduled to, we arrived back home on time.

So, I bet you're asking yourself, did she actually get any knitting done during all that insanity. Well, yes, a bit (a bit). Most of the stitching was done in the Pittsburgh International Airport before we even left. I did some on the plane both ways, and a little bit in the hotel room before dinner on Saturday. Here is the Left Front, blocking:

This took just about one ball of yarn; I needed a little of another to finish it, but I'd started with less than a full ball. Here's the progress on the Right Front:


I am planning on knitting furiously on this tonight and hope to finish it at my work knitting group tomorrow. I'm no longer feeling too confident about finishing this by the end of the weekend, but I'm sure as hell gonna try my darndest.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pieces of sweater completed: 1 (out of 5)

Balls of yarn left: 8

Yikes, could get scary down the line. I used a full three balls on the back, plus all of what was left of the ball I used to swatch, plus a few yards of a fifth ball. Luckily, the front pieces are about a third of the number of stitches in the back, so I'm hoping my yarn will go a lot farther than I think it will. Here is the back, yarn hog that she is:

She's blocking right now. Rather than give her a bath, I pinned her in place and sprayed her with water, because I'm afraid of blooming that will mess up my measurements. Right now the length is exactly right, and the overall fit appears to be good when held up to me.

I had a lovely time at a [smaller than usual] stitching meeting last night. Rita won the contest for the most exotic yarn -- she brought yarn spun nearly entirely out of dog fur! It was so soft and cuddly, but probably not adviseable for those with pet allergies. I can also attest to the fact that Jen is making progress on Tubey; she was in the process of picking up stitches for the body portion as we were stichin' and bitchin'.

This weekend we (J, my parents, my little brother, and I) are headed to the Midwest for a family party, and I'm taking Blanche-Neige with me. I did my homework and checked the TSA's permitted/prohibited list to make sure my needles were allowed (and for the record, Jen, I called Southwest today and they said they're ok!). Frankly if they weren't allowed, I would be questioning the intelligence of the security people. There's no way I can do the slightest bit of damage with my Addis!

Hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day. J and I had a quiet evening at home. I made a delicious dinner (J's pronouncement, not mine) and then we sacked out on the couch. J did earn big points for romanticism: he showed up at my office during lunch -- he actually couldn't find me at first because I was with my knitting group on another floor -- and brought me a single red rose, along with this little cutie:


This is Gretel (she's the smaller furry one). I've been talking about wanting a daschund for a long time, so J decided to get me the perfect kind -- small, cute, and incredibly well behaved. She's also really easy to take care of, since she doesn't eat or need to be walked or have any accidents in the house. She's been very good at keeping me company while I knit and has been watching my progress with great interest -- hmm, maybe she wants a doggie sweater. (As you can see here, my company was really stimulating.)

Off to work on Left Front!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Giochi Olympici, giorno numero tre

Since the games are in Italy, I decided a little Italian was in order. ;-)

I've been knitting furiously away at Blanche-Neige, and here she is as of this afternoon:

(Apologies for the curly-ness of the fabric -- it's tricky to hold it down with one hand while aiming the camera with the other!) Although I did not knit as much as I wanted to over the weekend, the sweater is coming along relatively quickly, and I absolutely love the yarn despite the fact that the wool is giving me a weird dry spot on my left index finger. My one complaint about this pattern is that the chart really isn't very accurate on the wrong side rows, but fortunately the seed stitch pattern is straightforward enough that I was able to figure it out. For anyone else who might be contemplating the pattern, I wouldn't let this deter you; I would advise you, however, that because there are no border stitches, when you do the decreases you will move in on the pattern, so you'll need to keep track of how many stitches at the beginning of the row you won't be doing. I kept track with a sticky note covering the corresponding number of stitches on the right side of the chart (just remember that in the middle of the row, you'll still be knitting those stitches -- if that makes any sense).

Now that I've gotten comfortable with the pattern and relatively satisfied with my pace, I'm of course beginning to freak out that I'll run out of yarn. I did calculate my yarndage, and according to what the pattern calls for I should have enough, but I think I've learned this thing about myself as a knitter: if there's not something to worry about, and if I'm too complacent, the knitting won't get done. It'll just go into the UFO pile and I'll forget it's there. Right now I'm in the "Cont. in patt. until work measures x inches" part of the back, and I'm quickly approaching the end of my second ball of yarn. That leaves nine more balls, plus a fraction of one left from my swatching. Fingers crossed!

Tomorrow I am cooking J a delicious dinner for Valentine's Day. Depending on my progress tonight, I may even put my knitting down afterwards and give him some attention (poor guy felt a little ignored this weekend when I started, I think). Either way, I'm planning on bringing B-N to B&N (hehe) on Wednesday night. I say we call it "Sit 'n Knit," since we're not using that other term right now.

Finally, to all the Olympic Knitters out there: Forza!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Two days and counting...

Like many other knitlympic "athletes" out there, I am just itching to start my Olympic project (and for the record, I have only 44 hours to go before I can start!). And even though I finished up my Jaywalkers on Monday, don't think that I've put down my needles since then!

This is the back and fronts of Trellis, which were completed sometime late last week. (I've started a sleeve as well, but haven't picked it up again since I've been so focused on finishing the socks.)

And speaking of socks, what have we here?

Well I'll be, that looks like another pair of Jaywalkers in a lovely stretchy wool/nylon/polyester yarn! ;-) The color is actually much darker than it appears in the picture -- the main color is a dark bluish purple, and the lighter spots are a limey green and aqua blue. I'm not afraid of knitting too tightly now, since I know the pattern will give me plenty of room, so these should fit a lot better than the first pair.

I have not picked up my Adamas shawl in over a week (and it'll be at least 2 1/2 weeks until I do again), but I'm thinking I'm going to have to frog again and start over -- again. I was pretty certain I was following the pattern correctly this time, but somehow wound up with a rather dense patch right in the center section, where it definitely shouldn't be. Guess I wasn't concentrating enough. Grr. But a big shout-out to the designer of the aforementioned Adamas shawl, who occasionally stops by this blog (Hi Miriam!).

Thanks to everyone who commented on this post; I really appreciate your concern. I'm happy to report that there have been no other fainting spells (thank goodness -- if I even say that I feel dizzy, J wants to rush me back to the ER!). It's nice to know that this little community of knitbloggers is so friendly, and I'm hoping that one day I'll get to meet you all in person!

Monday, February 06, 2006

ONE FOR THE THUMB!

This says it all:

PITTSBURGH STEELERS - SUPER BOWL XL CHAMPS!!!!!

(Perhaps now my favorite #86 will change the spelling of his name to Heinz....)

I'm convinced that my knitting had something to do with this victory -- it seemed to work during the AFC Championship game, after all. I picked up my Jaywalkers sometime during the second quarter and had only a few rows left on the toes when the game ended, at which point I was very excited and thought it might be a good idea to put down my very sharp dpn's. Ten minutes of lunchtime knitting today, and here you have it:


Pattern: Jaywalker by Grumperina
Yarn: KnitPicks Sock Landscape (100% merino) in Cape Cod colorway
Needles: US 2 Inox aluminum dpn's
Mods: None, just knitted the larger size ('cause I have such big feet). You can't really see it here, but my tension was a lot tighter in the second sock. I think I was still worried about that freakish won't-fit-over-my-heel moment in my first attempt at these (granted, it was caused by my not following the pattern!) and knit the first sock a little on the looser side. But I absolutely love this pattern, and as soon as finished weaving in the ends on the second sock I cast on for another set. Those, however, will not be seeing my feet for quite some time, since they will be cast eagerly aside in favor of Blanche-Neige in only four days!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Drama, or Why I Should Stay Home on a Weekday Night and Knit

Even those this posting will have nothing to do with knitting, and even though it's a rather personal story, it's just too funny (in hindsight, anyway) not to tell.

Last night J and I were at a big event opening an historical exhibit, which I had worked on a bit through my job, at the Heinz history center. We got there a little before six, had some munchies and some drinks, and then stood for about an hour while various important people talked (and talked and talked). I was getting a little uncomfortable from standing so long and kept shifting from foot to foot, and there were so many people in the room that it was starting to get rather stuffy. All of the sudden I started to feel inexplicably woozy (and more so than I would expect from the glass and a half of wine I'd had to drink with my hors d'oeures). I turned around to J and said, "I feel really dizzy, I think I'm going to pass out." I heard him ask me if I thought I could walk out of the room, and I tried to say no. Next think I know, I'm flat on my back on the floor, J is frantically calling my name, and there are all these people around me trying to determine if I'm okay (including my boss, who apparently helped J to catch me when I went limp). In about a minute I was sitting up and somewhat back to normal, and a few minutes later the paramedics were there to check me out. My blood pressure was a little low, and J said I'd been out for about 15 seconds, so they were worried enough to suggest I go to the emergency room to get checked out. I didn't particularly want to, but I could see that J was a tad bit freaked out at that point and I thought it was probably the best idea. What I didn't count on was them having to strap me to a stretcher and wheel me out -- passed all my coworkers and several hundred other people, including local elected officials, community leaders, and even the chancellor of the university. Oy. Rather embarrassing.

For the record, let me just say that if you need to go to the ER, going in an ambulance is the way to go. They wheeled me right in and I was in and out of the ER in less than an hour. Everything wound up being normal; apparently I just fainted.

The funniest thing about the night (although again, it wasn't that funny at the time) was hearing J's recounting of what happened when I went down. Want to know why the EMTs came so quickly? Because Bob O'Connor called them. That's right, THE MAYOR just happened to see me pass out and, even when he heard that someone had already called 911, called them himself to make sure they were speedy about it. So thanks, Mr. Mayor! Now, can we talk about getting a stop sign or two on my street so I don't get run over when I go to get the bus every day?