Thursday, September 28, 2006

Peek-a-boo

It appears that Sockret Pal has kicked off in full force. I've already heard from my Sockret Pal, who has informed me that s/he is the type to ask a lot of questions to be sure to send stuff that I'll love. Nothing's better than a thoughtful pal!

Tonight I am on my own. J is going out to dinner with a friend and doesn't expect to be home until late in the evening. Of course I always miss him when he's not here, but this is a perfect opportunity to make myself pasta with arrabiata sauce -- J won't eat it, as he doesn't like spicy food. So I will have a yummy dinner, a nice glass of wine, and I'll settle in with my knitting to see whether Meredith will choose McDreamy or The Vet (tough choice!).

Actually, I really don't have much in the way of knitting to do tonight. Remember how I alluded to an almost-finished object? Well I finished up the knitting last night, and now there's finishing to do. Here's a little peek for you:

As you can see, there's some crochet involved in the finishing -- which is fine, as I've been a "hooker" nearly as long as I've been a knitter, but it can be slow going with the tight stitches around bound-off edges. Once the crocheting is done, there are all the ends to weave in. I'm hoping to finish up by tonight, so I will hopefully be able to reveal the identity of this mystery project in the next day or two.

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sockret Pal Questionnaire, plus Bonus Photo

Here are my answers to the Socret Pal Questionnaire:

The basics:
How long have you been knitting?Do you consider yourself a beginning sock knitter, an intermediate, or have you been doing this so long you could probably knit a pair in your sleep?

I have been knitting for approximately 18 years (wow, that makes me sound old!), but only seriously for about the past two to three years. I first became addicted to knitting socks about a year ago, and I'd consider myself pretty skilled. If they were just basic stockinette, I could probably knit a pair in my sleep.


The measurements:
While your pal may ask for some additional info to ensure a great fit, please provide your shoe size, or any other fitting related info you think is pertinent.

Here are my exact measurements: my foot is 9 3/4 inches long and 9 inches around at instep, my ankle is 8 1/2 inches around, and my leg (mid-calf) is about 12 1/4 inches around. I have relatively narrow feet (I wear a US size 9 or 9 1/2, depending on the shoe), but I have pretty thick calves, so I have issues with the cuffs of socks being tight.


(fiber related) Favorites:
What colors do you love? Do you prefer solids or variegated? What fibers do you most love to knit with? Who do you consider your favorite yarn vendors? What projects (other than socks, of course) do you most enjoy knitting?

I love shades of blues and greens, as well as pinks and roses. I usually prefer solids and occasionally use self-striping yarns. I like the look of variegateds in the hank, but I usually wind up with ugly pooling. I usually knit socks with superwash wool or wool blends, but my favorite pair of hand-knit socks to wear are a cotton/lycra blend from Greenwood Fiberworks. Most often I knit with Knit Picks sock yarn, but I also love using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. I have some Koigu in my stash that I haven't gotten to yet, but I have a feeling I'll love it. I'd love to try some new sock yarns.

Other than socks, lately I've also really been into knitting lace. I finished my third shawl a few weeks ago and have been eager to start another one. The next one I'm coveting for myself is the Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style, which I unfortunately do not own yet.

(fiber related) Dislikes:
What fibers can you not stand to knit with? To wear? What colors would you never wear?

Although I learned to knit with acrylic, and for years knit with nothing else but, since I've discovered the natural fibers I haven't been able to stand it. The only thing I use it for now is knitting baby items (easy to wash!) or for the occasional crocheted afghan. I will occasionally tolerate wool blends that have a little bit of acrylic, but only if special circumstances warrant it.

I have very sensitive skin, so I usually can't do very scratchy fibers like mohair. I also don't like angora -- its loose fibers make me sneeze!

One color I absolutely HATE and will never wear is orange, especially bright, contruction cone orange. I can tolerate pinky peach shades, but that's as close as I get.

The Tools:
Plastic or Metal? Bamboo or wood? Circs or Straights? DPNs or Magic Loop? Are there any knitting accessories you don't have in your collection but would like?

My needles of choice are Addi Turbo circulars, followed by dpns. I recently bought some of the Knit Picks circular needles, but haven't had a chance to try them out yet. I usually knit socks (one at a time) on two circular needles, either 12" or 16" in length, but I'm going to try to knit two at once on two longer (32") circs for one of my next pairs.

I'm not sure what knitting accessories I'd want to add to my collection -- maybe those stitch markers that open and close and look like little combination locks? I also hear people talking about Chibis; I have no idea what they are or what they're used for, and I definitely don't have one. Oh, and I've been coveting one of those sheep tape measures.

The Extras:
Do you have a wish list? If so, please share the link! Do you like sweet, sour or salty? (or all of the above?) Do you have any allergies your pal should know about? (Certain foods, smoke, pet hair, etc) Favorite scents? Scents you can't stand? Do you collect anything (other than yarn and knitting toys of course)? When is your birthday? (month and day is fine!) Do you spin? Dye your own yarn? Your favorite author/band/vacation spot, anything you think will help your pal know you better...

So let me see if I can just go down the list and cover all the questions ... I don't have a wish list, so sorry, no link. I like sweet and salty. I am allergic to smoke and strong flower scents, especially lilies. I prefer sutle flower scents, fruit scents (strawberry, pomegranate, mango, etc.), "dessert" scents like coffee or pumpkin spice, and I love the smell of clean laundry. Other than knitting supplies, I can't think of anything else that I collect -- I do have a lot of books. My birthday is March 9 (that makes me a Pisces). I do not spin, and I'm trying not to get sucked in, because I have a feeling I'd quickly become obsessed. I have once dyed my own yarn and enjoyed it, although it was a messy project that took a long time. Favorite author: Jane Austen Favorite vacation spot: Cape Cod, Mass. or Italy Anything else? I'm currently planning my wedding, which will be next September 2.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Thus endeth the questionnaire. As promised, I have a bonus photo for you. This is a shot of my favorite knitting spot, in response to Laurie's request to see the places we knit. This is on our third floor, in our "family" room (can you still call it that if there's only two people who technically aren't a family yet?). This is the furniture from my living room in my old apartment. I used to knit sitting on the couch, but now that this chair faces the TV it's my preferred location. You can see my bowl 'o knitting goodies (measuring tape, stitch markers, gauge/needle size tool, sticky notes, etc.) on the coffee table in front of the chair, within easy reach. Most often I knit in the living room downstairs while J tinkers on his laptop, but come the chilly months of winter the third floor will be the coziest spot in the house.

Monday, September 25, 2006

No good title for this post

To start off, J would like to say thank you to those of you who wished him a happy birthday. I think he had a good day, and certainly got quite a haul in the present department.

I did not get very much knitting done over the weekend, as we spent most of it at services or eating. The good news is that I'm well into the gussets of my mate to this sock, so I should have it complete by the end of the week. I'd like to start working on socks for holiday gifts (yes, I'm aware it's still September, but I have quite a few things to knit between now and the holidays, including Socret Pal socks).

As you can see from the sidebar, I've been quite the joiner lately. Since I'm always knitting a sock anyway, I thought I'd sign up for Socktoberfest (by the way, I'm very proud of myself for getting that button up and making it an active link all on my own!). I joined Zimmermania, although I haven't yet picked a project or even started reading my first EZ book. I'd like to knit J a sweater, but I think I have a lot of convincing him to do first.

Even if J finally gives in, it'd be a while before I can get to him. I don't know if I've mentioned that one of my coworkers has commissioned me to knit her a sweater. I'll be knitting Wendy's Marilyn's Not-So-Shrunken Cardigan, but I'll be lengthening both the body and the sleeves. Said coworker purchased the pattern and the yarn (Elsbeth Lavold Silky Tweed, in the same color Wendy used). Before I can start, I must finish a top for myself -- to which I've been alluding for a couple of posts now, but which you haven't yet seen -- to free up the needles.

Socret Pal assignments are due to go out tomorrow, so my questionnaire will soon be posted.

I'm off the scrub the pasta pot -- don't I live a glamorous life?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy Birthday to Ya, Happy Birthday!

Today I ask your help in wishing happy birthday to one of the most yarn-tolerant non-knitting people around, the man who puts up with my knitting projects all over the house and a stash that is slowly taking over the third floor, the man who listens to me prattle on and on about fiber and patterns and Addi Turbos and pretends to really care, even though I know he'd much rather get back to his computer. Today my darling fiance turns 30.

Happy birthday, J!

In honor of his big day, I've decided to pick up on a meme I've found in the blogosphere lately. I went to Wikipedia, entered his birthdate, and found four interesting things in history that happened on that day, four famous people who were born on the same day, and four interesting deaths for the day. Just 'cause. Here's what I've come up with (and I've tried to pick some interesting stuff, but it's the end of the week and I've worked 12 days in a row, so bear with me).

Interesting events that have occurred on September 22:
1. 1862: A preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation is released
2. 1896: Queen Victoria surpasses her grandfather, King George III, as the longest reigning monarch in British history
3. 1951: The first live sporting event seen coast-to-coast in the United States, a college football game between Duke and the University of Pittsburgh, is televised on NBC.
4. 1994: The hit U.S. sitcom Friends begins on NBC.

Famous people born on September 22:
1. Andrea Bocelli (1958)
2. Tai Babilonia (1959)
3. Scott Baio (1961)
4. Mike Richter (1968)

Famous people who died on September 22:
1. Pope Clement XIV (1774)
2. Irving Berlin (1989)
3. Dorothy Lamour (1996)
4. Isaac Stern (2001)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Do you smell sausage?


Last night was the monthly knitting night at the Waterworks Barnes & Noble, and once again it was just me and the girls. If you weren't there, then you won't understand the title of this post. Nor did you have the joy of seeing everyone's favorite characters, the pig walker and 40 guy, once again and right on schedule. Only this time, 40 guy didn't have his 40 -- he had a bagel and cream cheese.

Since I arrived a little earlier than the other ladies, I took a few minutes to peruse the knitting section and picked up a couple of additions to my knitting library. I thought I should finally get an Elizabeth Zimmermann book, since I've joined the knitalong and all. (I showed it to J when I got home, proclaiming that I was determined to knit him a sweater, and he snapped right back with, "But if you do, isn't there some curse that would be the end of us?" Ah, how I love my J and his tolerance of my knitting habit!) Of course I let Jenn spend some time with Knit Fix, to see if there were any revelations regarding how to fix her little problem with Mr. Weirdy Pants' sweater.

Tonight I am all about being a couch potato to watch the three big premieres. (PSA: the first two Web sites have music and video playing, so you may not want to click them at work or if you're not supposed to be reading blogs right now.) Of course I will be multitasking by knitting all the while, and I hope to have another FO to show you soon.

Since there's not much knitting content to be had in this post, instead I'll give you the recipe for what we're having for dinner tonight (one of J's favorites, which is saying a lot, since he's a basic steak-and-baked-potato kind of guy).

Golfer's Chicken*
1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 envelope onion soup mix
1/2 bottle Russian dressing
1/2 jar apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay chicken breasts flat in a baking dish (you may wish to cut them lengthwise or butterfly them to make smaller pieces, which will result in more tender meat). In a bowl, mix together the Russian dressing, preserves, and onion soup mix. Pour over chicken, spreading evenly over top. Cover dish with foil.

Bake for about one hour, or until chicken is tender, removing foil for last 5-10 minutes to allow sauce to thicken. Serve with rice and vegetable of your choice (I like peas, sugar snap peas, or green beans).

*Sorry, folks. Although I'm an expert at making this dish, I have no clue where it got its name.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Got Sizzle?


Pattern: Sizzle by Wendy Bernard
Yarn: Knit Picks Main Line (75% pima cotton, 25% merino) in color Wedgewood; used approximately 6 skeins exclusive of swatching
Needles: US 7 Addi Turbo circs
Started/Finished: August 30/September 14
Mods: I made the v-neck a bit more modest (starting the division at 13" instead of 12"). It ended up being high enough that I wasn't worried about being too revealing, but I wore this camisole underneath to work today on account of my icebox office. I also only made the seed stitch borders around the neck and arms 1/2" instead of the inch the pattern called for.

My gauge was a tad bit off with this yarn, so I followed the directions for the small and wound up with (more or less) a medium. The yarn itself is very sproingy (is that a word? if not it should be!) and comfortable, but has a tendency to stretch out and just kind of hang, as you can see a little bit of in the shots below. It also took a really long time to dry -- I blocked it Thursday night and it wasn't fully dry until yesterday! Unfortunately it looks like hand washing is the only way to go on this one: my test swatch (which was machine washed and dried last night) maintained its width but shrunk a whole inch in length.

Here are some other views, courtesy of my favorite photographer.


From the side (successful seaming job!) ...

from the back, where you can see it hanging after being stretched out all day ...

and finally the money shot, J's favorite (are you at all surprised?)

From this view you can see the spot on the front -- in a most inconvenient location -- where the yarn got all funny and furry and thicker. Ick. I was hoping it wouldn't be too obvious, but this shot certainly doesn't help things.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this pattern. The directions were very clear and easy to follow and, most importantly, resulted in a garment that fit! My only slight complaint is that the very end of the pattern (i.e., the directions for putting on the seed stitch borders) did not fully explain how to put together the edges for the neck. The pattern instructs you to knit the neck border side to side, but doesn't say what to do with the ends! I solved this by examining the photo and improvising, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. I wore this to work today, and not one person asked me if I'd knitted it! That, if you ask me, is the hallmark of a truly successful project. I plan on knitting this again, this time in Knit Picks Shine Worsted in a shocking shade called Watermelon, which is hopefully on its way to me in the next day or two (seems to be stuck in Leetsdale, Pa. again). The next one will be a little longer and will have the called-for (i.e., not modest) neckline.

Finally tonight I leave you with a little eye candy. I think I mentioned the other day that this weekend I worked my last shifts at my second job. Yesterday, as I was getting my stuff together to leave, the two managers on duty surprised me with cupcakes and a dozen roses to thank me for my time there -- so, so sweet of them. Here's a shot of the gorgeous flowers, which I love so much I'm making a mental note of them for wedding flowers!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Itty Bitty!

I promised you something supercute; I hope these will not disappoint!

Pattern: Miriam's Infant to Toddler Socks (free pattern available here), infant size
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (80% superwash wool, 20% nylon), colorway Cool, left over from these socks
Needles: US 0 dpns
Mods: none

These were a quick and satisfying knit (they probably only took a few hours altogether, but I did them in fits and starts in the past week). This morning I gave them to one of my managers at the store, who recently found out she's expecting. She loved them, even though she didn't even realize at first that they were hand knit. She was even more excited about them when that fact came out -- and the father-to-be is happy that they're blue, as he's hoping for a boy.

In other news, Sizzle was finished Thursday night (it fits!), but unfortunately it's still wet. Man, this cotton holds on to water! Once it's finally dry there will be a photo shoot and, of course, the full recap. I'm planning on using some of the leftovers to knit up a swatch to be tested in the washing machine. I really can't imagine waiting this long for the thing to dry after each time I wash it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

One for the Thumb -- and Two for the Feet

Pattern: Madder Ribbed Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in colorway Bee Stripe
Needles: US 1 Addi Turbo circs
Mods: Quite a few! After knitting this pattern for my future MIL, I knew that it'd come out a tad narrow for my legs/feet, so I added an extra pattern repeat. I cast on 72 instead of 60 and decreased two stitches in the last row of ribbing for 70 stitches for the pattern. I also substituted a modified wide toe for the star toe, modified because I grafted the final 14 stitches horizontally across the toe (instead of the final 12 vertically or perpendicular to the toes).

I'm quite pleased with how the striping worked out on these. I'd seen another pair of socks knitted in this colorway and noticed that it pooled a little, but I was quite lucky. The second sock (the one in the foreground in the shot above) had a tiny bit of pooling on the instep, but that was it. Want to see the striping in action? Of course you do!

Pretty stripes!

And the heels in action, with their purled "seam" down the back.

Meanwhile, progress continues on Sizzle. After last night's post, I seamed the sides and tried it on -- it fits like a glove! Huzzah! I've picked up the stitches for the neck and have another row or two to knit on that, and then all that's left are the seed stitch borders on the arms and weaving in all the ends.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Cooler Heads

While knitting away at multiple projects in the past week, I've also been doing a lot of thinking and have a made a couple big decisions. The first is that I've withdrawn from Sock Wars. I was looking forward to participating (and likely being killed off in the first round), but after looking at the calendar I realized the Wars would be starting at a most inconvenient time, not to mention that it all starts on J's birthday, and I didn't think he'd appreciate my spending the whole day knitting.

The second big decision was to resign from my part-time job; this weekend will be my last two shifts at the store. Not working weekends will allow me much more time to knit, er, I mean, plan my wedding.

Here's the latest progress shot of the front of Sizzle (I've got about two inches left to knit before it's time to graft the front and back together at the shoulders). I'm hoping to be able to finish this up this week in time to wear it to one of my two last shifts at work this weekend.


I've also started the toe on the second of my Steelers socks, so I should have a finished pair to show you in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, as I've been making good progress on these projects and casting on for a couple of others (you'll have to wait to hear about those), I've been feeling the pull of yarn. I've placed two Knit Picks orders in, oh, three days. The first order started innocently enough -- I ordered some needles and some spare skeins of sock yarn, as well as some stuff to send to my Sockret Pal. Then, the next morning, in addition to the order confirmation, there was also an e-mail from Knit Picks about a sale on summer yarns in my inbox. So I ordered some more Shine Sport and enough Shine Worsted to make another Sizzle. When is pay day again? (and thank goodness for free shipping!)

Coming up in the next couple of days: something supercute.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Blogging -- Now with 100% More Photos!

As promised, here's a picture!


This is the back of Sizzle, completed over the weekend. The front isn't much to look at in its present state (I'm only a couple of stockinette rows past the seed stitch border). The good news is that it looks like it's the right size! J held this up to my back and took a gander at it, and he proclaimed it good. I am hoping to make some good progress on the front tonight, while watching some junky TV and doing not much else (the short post-holiday-weekend week is turning out to be brutally long, and I just don't have the mental capacity to do anything intellectual).

I've pretty much given up on getting my Steelers socks done for tomorrow's season opener, but they'll definitely be done in time for the playoffs, if not before.

Have you seen this picture? (If you've watched any national news program in the last 24 hours, chances are you have):

She's cute, but frankly I didn't think either of her parents was Asian. At least we know she got her father's hair genes -- someone get that baby some product!

That's all I can manage. More when I have actual knitting content and can be a little more witty.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back to the Grind

How is it that I always manage waste a good chunk of my holiday weekend sleeping? J and I got almost 11 hours on Saturday night and almost 10 hours on Sunday night. No wonder it was hard getting up and getting back on schedule this morning.

Thank you for all of your kind comments on Seraphim. I was really just so pleased with how it turned out, and while that's enough for me, it's nice to know that others are admiring it as well. In the future I want to try knitting this pattern in lace weight yarn to see how it looks, but for now the next shawl in my queue is Icarus (yes, another Miriam design). I have about 1,300 yards of bright red merino just calling my name.

I am making moderately good progress on my Sizzle, although I've slowed down somewhat in my drive to finish it since the weather is no longer amenable to my actually wearing it. I did finish the back and make a good start on the front over the weekend, but at the moment I've shifted my attention over to my current socks (sock #1 complete, sock #2 approaching the heel flap).

In truth, I did not get much knitting done this weekend, in part because I spent so much time sleeping, but also because I watched a lot of local news coverage. You may heard the sad news that our beloved mayor, Bob O'Connor, passed away Friday night. I didn't really know him, although you may remember that he helped me out in a moment of need back in February. The thing about Bob was that you didn't have to know him, you just felt like you did -- he was Pittsburgh. He loved this city so much and had such great plans for it; he was Pittsburgh's biggest champion. He will be greatly missed.

Tomorrow: a less depressing post -- with pictures!