Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We Have Sleeves!

Sorry I have been so quiet lately. It's a busy time of year with the job (you know, the thing that lets me continue to buy yarn and fabric?)

I'll get to the actual knitting content shortly. Tomorrow is going to be a long, but kick-ass day. Why? BLAM!!!!! Yep, I'm going to the Barenaked Ladies show at Gibson Ampitheater in Hollywood tomorrow night. With good seats. But WAIT! It gets BETTER!

I would like to extend a personal, heartfelt thank-you to the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Committee. Why? Because they sent Ole Miss volleyball to USC for the first round. They are playing their games Thursday/Friday. That means that my best friend Bill, who works at Ole Miss, is here. In Los Angeles. As I type. AND I'm about 95% sure he can go to the show with me tomorrow night. WOO-HOO!!!!!

On to the fluff.

Meet Troy DERF-amalu. You saw a look at Mr. Bearamalu here. Since the Steelers have continued to stink not play well, we tried something else. Bear went back to what he was wearing last year -- my "off jersey" (I wear the jersey the team is wearing -- white or black -- he wears the other one despite the fact that is 10x bigger than he is). It's a little tight over his head, but Derf (that's Fred spelled backwards. He's a build-a-bear and he looked like a Fred to me. Then the hubster started on his Harry Caray riff about "Sosa spelled backwards is A Sauce." He's been DERF ever since) looks pretty cute in the jersey too, don'tcha think?

Next. As we have previously discussed, my office is a thinly disguised meat locker. I went in to the office on Monday in my workout gear, plus a sweatshirt and shorts (I sweat in spandex shorts-- nobody needs to see that outside the gym). After 10 minutes in my office, I was freezing, so I pulled out a fleece zip-up jacket that lives in my office for obvious reasons and used it to cover my legs. I shifted a few minutes later and felt something poke my leg. When I went to investigate what it was that hurt, IT DREW BLOOD.

See? Blood! Ouch! What caused this?


Whoever sewed this jacket broke a needle and didn't bother to find the business end. Which wound up in my leg. Then my thumb. The truly amazing thing is that I've had this particular jacket for more than seven years and Monday was the first time I ever noticed the needle. Scary. And impressive, in a weird way. The really odd thing? My first thought was OOH! Blog fodder!

Knitting content. Really. I now have both sleeves done on the purple V-neck. I'm hoping to have it finished and ready to wear in Omaha if I need to be go there in two weeks. We'll see, though.

OK. Off to watch Boston Legal on TiVo (we just finished Studio 60) then get packed up for tomorrow's busy but FUN day. I'll blog again as soon as I can squeeze a few spare minutes together. No guarantees when that will be, but I'll do the best I can. Have a great day! :)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Little Yarn Family

Last Wednesday, Beach Knitting was open late (they're open until 8:30 every other Wednesday at the moment ... next one is Nov. 29) so I stopped by for a little toe-finishing help on my second sock and got sucked in to the free class ... Christmas Stockings!

Now, I didn't jump on the bandwagon for the free pattern that Charlo was teaching. Nope. I already owned this book, and decided I wanted to take the plunge to knit the christmas stocking on the cover. Now, I'm not saying it's going to be for this Christmas, but I figured it would be a good first color-work project and it's really cute, so why not?!!!

So I went ahead and purchased three skeins of my new favorite perfect-for-almost-everything yarn, Cascade 220, in red, green and white.

While I was hanging around home waiting for the termite guy to spray on Saturday morning, I decided to swift those three skeins into balls. Green. Done. Red. Done. White?

Well, we had a little issue. After I pulled the slipknot and got the ends ready to start winding, I noticed a few other ends sticking off of the swift. Hmmm ... Here's what I wound up with

Yep. A little yarn family. I decided that for this particular project it's irrelevant, plus Cascade 220 is such a reliable yarn that I know that this particular hank was an abberation. Still, I took it back to Beach Knitting on Saturday just so Karen could see how it came off of the swift (remember, scissors never touched this yarn once it was in my possession. I un-did the "knot" by hand!)

Of course, Karen decided that she needed to photograph the little family of yarn balls, at which point someone else suggested that they could be arranged in a different manner:


In other news, I have some mild progress to report on the purple sleeve:

On my third try, I got the toe on my toe-up short row heel sock completed correctly. (No picture today. I forgot!) I had a little trouble on the first rows past the "point" of the toe on the first two tries. Then my only issue is that apparently I picked up my stitches through the wrong part of the crochet chain for my provisional cast-on, so I had to un-pick my waste yarn by hand. Live and learn, though! And bring on that second sock!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Behold, my first ever pair of socks hand-knitted by yours truly:

Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn
Yardage: one skein with a decent-sized chunk left over (what the hell am I gonna do with that?)
Source: Beach Knitting (where else?)
Needles: US3, using 5 DPNs
Pattern: Cuff-down, heel flap pattern generated by Sock Wizard, courtesy my socks class teacher (Charlo)

They were fun. Charlo, the Queen of Socks at BK, is doing a toe-up short row heel pattern for me that I'll pick up (and attempt to figure out) on Saturday. Socks may become my traveling knitting once I'm through my current Fuzzy Feet Frenzy, but as tempting as wonderful sock yarns are, I doubt I'll become a hardcore sock knitter. The hold-up? Teeny-tiny needles.

Sock #1 is on the right, Sock #2 on the left. How can I tell? The first sock striped perfectly the whole way down the cuff and the second one spiraled for a while then went straight down, then started to spiral again. Not only did I decide to not care, I really don't notice the difference. I don't know what that says about me as a sock knitter, but there you go. Either way, I must admit that I'm pretty damn impressed by my Kitchener Stitch-ing abilities. They look pretty damn good.

Oh, and one more awesome thing about socks? No seams and only two ends to weave in! :)

I've made a huge dent in the avalanche of duties that had me freaking out yesterday. This is good. I had to confront the co-worker I mentioned yesterday. This is not my forte, but I also feel good about that.

My only other even remotely interesting piece of news is that I got a flu shot this morning and my arm hurts where they poked me. Waaahhhhh!!!!

I'm in a holding pattern for some work stuff right now, but if I can get out of the office in time, I may go do something fun with the hubster tonight. We'll see. Meanwhile, have a great evening! :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A New Look

Yep. I changed my Blogger template. I decided the old one was too dark. I "auditioned" several other templates and while there were others I liked, this was decidedly my favorite. Hope you like it.

I'm in a mild state of panic today. I feel like I'm letting things fall through the cracks and it's really starting to bug me. This is my mini-mental health break before I dive in to the "full speed" portion of my work day which includes arranging some interviews and getting in my workout.

The other thing that's going on is that my parents are moving today and tomorrow. They bought the house in March, I was born in May and they have never moved. Until today. I know it's just a building, but it's home. Today, the furniture that won't fit in the new house (they are moving about 1.5 miles away, into a condo) is being moved into my brother's basement in a neighboring suburb. If the hubster and I can ever manage to move back to the Pittsburgh area, we'll take possession of that stuff. The rest is moving over to the condo tomorrow.

This move is without question the right thing for my parents to do. I'm happy for them. But I'm a little sad that when I go home for Christmas, it won't be to that house. It'll be weird, ya know?

OK. Off to kick my day in to high gear and probably have an argument with my least favorite co-worker. Wish me luck! (no new knitting or quilting content, although I'm hoping that I can finish my first official pair of socks tonight. Woo-Hoo!)

Monday, November 13, 2006

ssetnuoC = Countess

I'm writing from home on my home laptop. Unfortunately, all of my photos are on my work laptop. At work. So if you're reading between NOW and oh, about 7:30 am PT on Tuesday, you'll just have to bear with the spacers that will become photos when I edit the post in the morning.

Yesterday (Sunday) was a so-so knitting day. Got up, got a little organized, got showered and went over to Beach Knitting. Love that place! :) As you may remember me saying, after last week's fun over at BK, I came home and F'd up every single project I touched.

The sleeve of my purple V-neck sweater? Odd number of stitches, which means I missed an increase somewhere. Irma, my favorite knitting magician, helped me fix that pretty easily.

I hadn't F'd up my alpaca sleeve #1, so here's a nice boring progress photo. Sorry I didn't realize until just now how bad the color looks on this. It's still that peacock-turquoise, it's just really blown out in this pic.

I'm trying really hard to dress like a grown-up and look a lot more business-like at my office. this would be MUCH easier if the air conditioning (yes, I said air conditioning while we're in No-freakin-vember) in my office building wasn't set for about 50 degrees. I know I collect penguins, but I didn't know I needed to BE part penguin to work in my office without turning into a human popsicle. I gotta finish my alpaca cable and my purple wool V-neck so I don't freeze to death in the office every day.

Then there's my beautiful Countess. When I went to BK last Sunday, I thought I was in decent shape, but then eight rows after I split the V on the neck, Houston we had a problem. 39 stitches on one side, 41 on the other. Ruh-roh, Shaggy! Here's a photo of Countess as it looked when I walked in to BK yesterday morning

First, Irma waved her magic wand and tinked back to the split on the right front of the sweater, 'cause I had obviously missed a neck decrease on that side. I got back to work. At this point, my brain was starting to melt. But I perservered. Re-knit the right front to match the left front. Counted again. SHAZBOT! So I took a deep breath and we decided to rip back to the split for the neck. Ripped. Picked up. Counted. 80 stitches. I started with 78, side shaped down to 70, then side shaped back up to 78. In theory at least. SHAZBOT! (this was the first time I shouted the F-word in the store. All friends in da house at this point).

Took a close look at the sides, as Irma joked that I was gonna have to rip the whole thing. Within 5 minutes, I knew that while she was intending to joke, she was absolutely right. I had missed the first three of the four decreases on the right side of the front. No wonder I was fat after the split and had an uneven number of stitches on each side. Would have yelled the F-word again, but there were people I didn't know in the store, so I just grumbled a lot and took the sweater into the back to use the winder to frog the damn thing.

So now it's sitting on a small needle at the end of the 2x2 rib waiting for me to be willing to pick it up again. I will, because I love this yarn and love this pattern, but it's frustrating as hell to have to re-knit this thing. But I'd damn well better pay attention when I pick this thing up again, and not just paying attention to the cable! Here's a current shot, as of 6 am Tuesday:

It's now 7:30, I got home in a reasonable amount of time, cooked up some yummy dinner (pasta with meat sauce) and cracked open what's left of the white wine my mom left behind. No Countess for me tonight. Haven't decided what I'm gonna do yet. Could read, could sock or could Fuzzy Foot. I really want to embroider some quilting labels, but that's more set-up and general work than I'm up for tonight. We shall see.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lone Stars, Pumpkinstein

That's how I spent my Veterans Day Holiday (Observed), and it was awesome!

First, I took a 10a-4p Lone Star Tree Skirt class from Bobbie Moon at Bearly Stitchin. We did it with the Quiltsmart system (4x4 Lone Star), which was amazingly fast, easy and best of all, ACCURATE!

I showed up at the store at about 9:55. Traffic cooperated, I just hit snooze one too many times. Got all of my crapolla out of my car (no small feat!) and was in position for Bobbie to start instruction at 10 am.

Despite all of my stellar intentions, I didn't do crap to be ready for this class, beyond pulling three fabrics from my stash. I was thin on reds and knew there was a background fabric sitting at Bearly that I liked.

I started cutting out the quilt at about 10:15. 32 rectangles that are 2.5x5.5 (FYI, if you cut 2-5.5" strips, you're just about guaranteed to have the perfect number of rectangles). The first of my eight "pie pieces" was a teensey bit slow, but once I got into a rhythm (fuse, glue, sew), it flew by.

At lunchtime, I took a field trip to Unraveled in Monrovia. My friend Beth works there some Sundays. I had a BLAST and found some really great yarns for very good prices. Everything was either on sale or was great yardage for a very good price.

Even with my hour-long field trip, I had all eight of my pies finished by 4 pm. I guess that makes me the class over-achiever, since nobody else got that far. It took until about 4:30 or 4:45 to get all of the long seams pressed open (the worst part of the process, by far). Here's a pic:

That cream-colored square in the bottom right corner is my background fabric

And here is a close-up!

I didn't feel like continuing on the Lone Star as we morphed from "normal" class into Friday night. After a dinner field trip with Beth, Carol and Lisa to Whole Foods for extra-yummy salad bar dinner, I switched machines and started cranking on applique for Pumpkinstein.

At the start of the evening, I think I had four of the pumpkins zig-zagged. everything was fused about a year ago, laid out before they were pressed so the seams will next. I'm hoping that I have that digital photo on my personal computer or on the memory card on my old camera so I can remember which pumpkin goes where, since I just chukked these onto the table for a photo op at the end of the night.

This quilt was in Quiltmaker magazine about a year ago. It was great fun and I'm looking forward to getting it pieced, sandwiched and quilted.

A few little catch-up notes:

1. Thursday was a day that made me loathe living in LA. I stayed home until 8 am to hang out with mom and Suzie a little bit before they headed off to Vegas. It took me 90 minutes to get the 16 miles from my house to work. I left work at 5 sharp, and it took over two hours to get home. I don't think I topped 20 MPH the entire ride home. It was awful.

2. I'm almost done with my third pair of fuzzy feet. I'll polish off this toe and cast on the next pair as soon as I'm done with this blog update.

3. I'm past the heel on my second "real" sock. Look out, I'm learning toe-up and short row heel next! ;-)

4. Going knitting tomorrow. Better get to bed reasonably soon so I can be at Beach Knitting at their open (11 am). I managed to screw up everything I touched right after I left the store last Sunday, so Irma has her work cut out for her in helping me fix everything.

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend! :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm the Mayor

No, I didn't win an election (of any kind) and neither have any of my Roaming Gnome nominees (yet). It's just that my mom and Aunt Suzie have been in town since Saturday night.

I love having them here, and I love having the totally valid excuse to only spend half days in the office. But it's still tiring just having your normal routine disrupted. HOWEVER, the biggest bonus of having them here? They're doing my holiday "baking" for me. BOO-YAH!

Mom in the foreground, supervising the BlackEye dipping. Suzie is keeping the assembly line moving. Thanks again! :)

What have we done on this visit? We spent half of Sunday at Beach Knitting, then came home and watched the Steelers suck, again lose to Denver.

Monday, we went shopping. For clothes. For me. THANKS, DAD! :) Banana Republic enjoyed our visit, I'm sure.

Yesterday was particularly fun. We stopped by my Aunt Janet's house in Pasadena for a brief visit, then went to The Huntington for tea (YUM) and to tour the gardens. No pictures from tea, but afterwards we went walking!

First, to the Japanese Gardens. Wow. Very cool, literally and figuratively. When we walked down to where this bridge was, I'll bet there was a 20-degree temperature difference in the little valley.

Also, lots of koi in the pond. Big koi!

Here I am with Suzie in front of the house in the garden

And this is me with my mother. The goofy look on my face is because mom was torturing trying to tickle me while Suzie was taking the picture. She's good at that.

The Huntington was awesome. I'd love to go again.

Today, we were planning to go to LACMA, but lo! It's the only museum on the planet that is closed Wednesdays, not Mondays. Who knew?

So instead, we hit a couple of yarn stores in Santa Monica. First, a new store that has only been open five weeks. I found two skeins of Cascade 220 in colors that Beach Knitting doesn't carry. I'll probably go back. I enjoyed it. It's called Compatto and is on Wilshire in the 2100 block. Then, over to Wildfiber, where I found a skein of sock yarn, a set of straight cable needles, a mini-kacha kacha and two additional yarn needles. Mom and Suzie did OK too. I was the only one to purchase at Compatto.

That's it for the trip details. Mom and Suzie leave tomorrow morning to go back to Las Vegas for my cousin's wedding on Saturday. I'll try to post my knitting updates tomorrow. Really. :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Let the Voting Begin

NOTE: Started this Friday before my home game then got stupid-busy. Will have a knitting post tomorrow (Tuesday). Promise! Photos are already on my computer! :)Oh, and this is a photo-heavy post!

OK, people. This is a warm-up for Tuesday's mid-term elections. Vote early, vote often!

First, let me explain the Roaming Gnome concept. If you are traveling alone, there are often places you would like to photograph. You then have two options: 1. Take a picture of the building/site/hysterical monument with random strangers in it or with a vast empiness that looks like a postcard, or 2. Ask a stranger to figure out your camera so you can have a picture of you with same building/site/monument.

This concept lets you find a middle ground. You have a "thing" that can appear in your pictures. Have I visited the Neues Rathouse/Glockenspiel in Munich? Parliament and Big Ben in London? The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen? Yep. I'm not in the picture, but here's my cute little roaming gnome in my place.

Unfortunately, this concept reaches my feeble little brain about 15-20 years too late for trips to Munich, London, Copenhagen, Paris and various other locations, but it sure will be fun on work trips when I venture out onto college campuses all by my lonesome. Hoover Tower at Stanford, here I come! :)

So, let's meet our contestants. We'll go littlest to biggest. Remember, all of you will be seeing a fair amount of the winner on this blog (think traveling sock on the Yarn Harlot blog!)

First, our friend Ernie. I don't know how long I've had this guy hanging out on my desk, but I'm guessing it has been at least since I was at Minnesota, which would have been 1995-96. Complete with Rubber Ducky! Advantages: Small. Smush-proof (he's a pretty durable plastic). Disadvantages: I'll always either have my hand in the picture or his legs cut off. And, he's easily drop-able. Not a great trait in a little somehing you're probably going to be holding out at arm's length somewhere you would really NOT want to drop it.

Next, this nifty little nameless cow that was a promotion for something once upon a time. He has "Millennium" printed on his back, and that's some sort of a hotel chain, although I have no idea where. Advantages: Small, Smush-proof, again (he's made of the same thing as a squeeze-ball would be). Disadvantages: He had a cow bell-type tag around his neck until yesterday (Thursday) when I took the test shots. This has started him down the path to doing his best impression of Nearly Headless Nick of Harry Potter fame. Probably can't see it on the photos, but he has a little cut on his neck, right in front and right above where the first "full" row of stars is on his "shirt."

Third, Sharka. Got him at Crazy Shirts in Hawaii several years ago. I also own a Sharka t-shirt and hat, but that's beside the point. He's a cool surfer dude and about as friendly of a shark as you'd want to come across. Advantages: Small, has weighted beans in his butt, so he'll sit on his own pretty easily. Disadvantages: I'm a little concerned that the string tying his surfboard to his fin could get caught in something and cause a disaster in a tightly-packed bag when I'm trying to move stuff around in a hurry. That and he has spent many perfectly-groomed years on my desk and I almost hate to think of him eating dirt in some strange locale.

Finally, Tigger. A new addition as of Monday night's trip to the happiest place on earth (AKA Disneyland, for those of you who have not been indoctrinated to the Way of the Mouse). The Eeyore was cuter, but Linda (my inspiration for this adventure) uses an Eeyore as her roaming gnome and I didn't want to be a TOTAL copycat. Just for your reference, the Pooh was mildly creepy and I seem to have blocked out the Piglet. Advantages: Cute as hell. Easy to grab by his spring-like tail so my hand won't always be in the picture. Very short minkee-like fur, so he won't get too terribly nappy/gross as he ages. Disadvantages: He's the biggest one of the four. The tag you can see sticking out of his butt in this picture is removeable, so don't let that hold you back or change your opinion.

Here's a side-by-side comparison. Diet Pepsi can included for scale ... and carbonated caffeinated refreshment.

And finally, test shots taken following Friday night's game. PLEASE VOTE! either via comment or via email. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

It has been a tiring week. I need to get home as early as I can, settle in for the big College Football game tonight, then go to bed as soon as we figure out which Big East team is going to remain undefeated.

What has kept me so busy, you ask? Well, here's a summary:

Monday night, my (work) friend Lori and I went to Disneyland to see it all decked out for Halloween. Three cheers for annual passes! We had FUN. Above picture is me at Pooh Corner. It was after dark, so the characters were not there for photo-ops. Bummer.

And, this is the kick-ass Halloween Mickey that was at the end of Main Street USA. Again, very fun!

I had totally forgotten how much fun Legos are. Then Lori dragged me into the Lego Store at Downtown Disney because there was something specific she was looking for. I was drooling over Star Wars stuff that was too expensive, but was resisting until I saw these awesome pumpkin kits at check-out. The 3D one (smaller, rounder) is my favorite. The 2D one isn't quite "correct" but instead is built out of the leftovers from the 3D pumpkin kit. I would have had to buy a third kit bag to make the "correct" 2D pumpkin. Not worth it.

My other purchase of significance at Disneyland was inspired by my friend Linda (who I also work with). Linda recently showed me her photo album of a trip she took to China over the summer. While there are a good number of photos of her and her traveling companions, there are also several pictures of Chinese landmarks featuring Eeyore ... well, a small stuffed Eeyore who Linda uses as a "Roaming Gnome." What a great idea!

So I got myself a little Tigger to use as a roaming gnome. Of course, now that I'm sitting here, I see I have two other candidates on my desk. I'll take some audition photos later and my fearless readers can help me choose.

Anyhow, on to actual knitting content! After my help trip to Beach Knitting on Sunday, I came home and was on a mission to get various pieces-parts of sweaters finished.

First, I finished the front of my purple V-neck sweater and did a three-needle bind-off. Looks much better now that it's steamed, huh? Sleeves are up next! ;-)

Then I moved on to my Countess V-neck. Love this yarn! This is the first time I've used a sweater pattern that has side shaping (you can see it ... that's not just a curl on the sides, it's intentional!) and the first that has a collar bind-off on the back, not just the front.

I cast on for the front of the Countess last night. The theory being that if I got through the first repeat of the cable, I could take it over for Irma to check on Sunday at BK. I did OK through the first six rows of the cable pattern. THEN I realized that I was supposed to be doing side shaping simultaneously.

I'm gonna have to rip it out down to the rib. SHAZBOT! Couldn't face that last night, so I pulled out Fuzzy Foot 5 (first half of pair #3) and finished it off. I'll rip and re-knit Countess while watching football tonight.

So that's about it from my little corner of the world. My mom and aunt are coming in to town on Saturday, so it's going to be a busy week coming up. It's worth it, though. Totally worth it!