Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympic Update: Day 12

I had exactly the kind of weekend that I needed, and I cranked on my mittens.


It looks like I’m done, doesn’t it? But I’m not. See how the mitten on the right is curling a little on the bottom and the one on the left isn’t? What you also can’t see in the photo is that the mitten on the left is narrower and a lot thicker than the one on the right. Why?


One liner finished, one to go! Friday is pretty much my only knitting time for the remainder of the Olympics, but I’m hopeful that I can finish in time. But I’m not going to finish with a lot of time to spare.

So yeah, I picked my project wisely. Challenge to finish, but not crazy-making. Thanks for the reassurance on project selection, and if you are participating in the Knitting Olympics, I hope your project is going as well as mine!

On a different note, thanks for your kind words about my friend Carol. I think all of last week's posts were skipped by most feed readers, so I was hoping at least that one would "catch."

Monday, February 22, 2010

One Year Ago

Lots of people are talking about what happened 30 years ago today. Under normal circumstances, that would be at the front of my mind as well.

But it’s important to me that I tell you all about something that happened one year ago today.

I had been running around like a crazy person for the previous few weeks doing work stuff. Worked a normal Saturday at the store and spent my Sunday enjoying a Quilters University type thing at The Quilt Company.

I knew there was an M&Ms meeting scheduled at Sandy’s house in Monrovia, Calif., the following day (Monday). When I got home from the quilting thing, I had an email from Sandy saying that the meeting was postponed indefinitely because our good friend Carol was in the hospital. Nothing serious, but the group would wait until Carol could attend.


Photo courtesy of mehitabel. Taken at Asilomar in the spring of 2008.

I hunkered down with my work laptop and started compiling the week’s softball scores. And watching the Oscars. I was leaving in three days for a two-week trip to administer a pair of softball tournaments, so I had lots of stuff going on. I fired off a “feel better soon” text message to my friend, then got down to work.

At one of our first block exchanges for the M&Ms group

I had finished my work and was waiting only for the Best Picture Oscar to be announced. Just as Steven Spielberg (I think?) stepped to the microphone to read off the nominees for Best Picture, my cell phone rang. When I saw who was calling, I looked over at Chris (the Hubster) and said "This is not going to be a good call." Sadly, I was right.

It was Sandy. She was sobbing. Carol had passed away earlier that day.

L-R: Carol, Lisa and Sandy helping me pack prior to our move from LA to Pittsburgh. Only the bestest friends will come and help you pack your stash for a cross-country move, especially when you have dueling quilting and knitting stashes!

This obituary ran in the Pasadena Star-News on Friday and was sent to me by mehitabel. I met Carol’s husband, Ole, several times and he was one of my few blog readers during the early days. He said it was one of the best ways to see what kind of mischief Carol was up to. He was very quiet, but always had a smile. I can’t imagine the depth of his loss.

Living on the other side of the country from where I met and got to know Carol, it has been hard for me to really believe that she is gone. And yet, I see the effects. If the M&Ms group is still intact, it has fractured from its original form. I believe that the group has continued without me this year. I understand that – I’m 2,500 miles away, I was a nightmare last year with all of my crappy summer stuff, and Carol was always the one who kept me in the loop. Carol was the glue. Without her, the pieces are separating.

Carol Jacobsen was the happiest, most giving and generous person I have ever met. Everyone was busy the last night I was in California, and several people dropped out of our planned final dinner. But not Carol. It wound up being just the two of us at Outback for dinner. She had some going away presents for me and we had a great visit before I headed east.

I don’t have the right words to express what an amazing person Carol was. And I know that no matter how much I try, I won’t be able to do her justice. So I’ll simply close by saying that I loved her very much and my world is not the same now that she is gone.

Godspeed, my friend. You are missed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

O Canada

First of all, my WiP Wednesday post seems to have been skipped by several friendly neighborhood feed readers. Including the one I use. So if you want to see what my Northman Mittens looked like two days ago, go here and check it out.

Meanwhile, you guys know that Roxanne at Zen Yarn Garden is my very favorite yarn pusher. Since she lives in the host country of the current Olympics, I figured showing you a little more of her yarn would be a good mid-Games post.

After I got my December Cashmere a la Carte shipment and saw the spoiler photos of the “cool” color, I decided I could find a little room in the yarn budget for the other color in this yarn.


Once again, it’s Roxanne’s “Serenity Worsted” base, which is 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere ant 10% nylon. It’s a double skein, 400 yards.


Again, cashmere content, so very yummy. Colorway name is Ice Blue. No clue what I’m going to make with it. But again, something that will go next to the skin.


I got some good work done on the mittens at Hurricane Knitters on Wednesday night, and yesterday (Thursday) was a total wash. Since taking these pictures, I’ve gotten to where the decreases are scheduled to begin. But I’m second-guessing whether or not that will make an appropriately-sized mitten. (ETA: Lifelines are good. I’ll forge along and see what happens)

So at the mid-point of Day 7 of the Games, here’s where I stand:


I’m really behind. I’m going to lose Wednesday night, Thursday night and all of next weekend (the last two days of the Games) If I can get some good work done tonight and Sunday, I’ll probably be OK. I’m also wondering if, although I’m getting gauge, I’m knitting too small. GAH.

Well, back to the grindstone. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 5: Olympic Update

I had an amazingly busy three-day weekend (Fri-Sun), and am starting to feel human again.

I did cast on my Northman Mittens (thanks for the pep-talk, everyone. I really appreciate it!) as the Olympic Cauldron was lit in Vancouver, then I essentially didn’t touch them again until Monday night. They’re going great, and I am so much happier with these mittens than I was with my Postwar Mittens. It’s not even close.

I split for the thumb on the right mitten last night. Here’s the palm:


And here’s the back:


I had a "Yikes! The cuff is rolling!" moment last night. Then I remembered that the lining will correct that issue. Yay, lining!

In other news, this is the 13th consecutive day of shoveling here at chez DPUTiger. My entire neighborhood is looking like an Icicle Factory. Here’s my house:


See that gigantic bank of icicles on the right-hand side? Between the big window for the TV room and the little window for the bathroom? The big boy in the middle has been touching the ground for three days now. Here’s a close-up:


And on that note, it’s time to bust out the snowblower. Again. I’d use the plywood, but it’s too hard to get the shoveled snow up-and-over the snow bank on the edge of the driveways. (Yes. Plural driveways. I'm doing mine and SuperNeighbor's) So I use the snowblower and wind up wearing as much as I clear, but it’s still better than shoveling. My wrists and lower back are fed up with the shoveling, but I'm feeling OK.

I love winter. I love snow. I am SO over the white stuff right now. Ugh.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ready? Set? Second-Guess!

Full disclosure: A previous version of this post "aired" over on the Bloomin Yarns blog yesterday. They get confidence. You get self-doubt.

We are roughly 48 hours from watching the Olympic Cauldron lighting ceremony in Vancouver for the XXI Olympic Winter Games. Have you picked your Knitting Olympics project?

I thought I had picked my project. So here's all of my information, and we'll get to the mental breakdown later.

I tried and tried to use pattern author David Schulz's photos (with his permission) in this post, but just couldn't figure it out. Please click the links on the following links to see the awesome that will (maybe? probably?) be my Olympics project!

Meet the Northman Mittens.

They are colorwork mittens that are fully lined. My hope is that when I complete this pair during the 16 days of the Olympics, I will not only have an awesome pair of fully lined mittens in yummy yarn, but I will have boosted my colorwork confidence by enough of a margin to try to tackle a Dale of Norway sweater.

I have completed several colorwork projects at this point, which is why I didn’t feel that another simple colorwork project was an appropriate Olympic project. I wasn’t particularly happy with my Postwar Mittens, but after knitting a pair of Christmas Stockings and my Hybrid Hat, I’m feeling a lot more confident in my fair isle skills. And I’d love to have a perfect pair of handknit colorwork mittens.

The lining on these mittens means two things: First, these will hopefully be a wonderful pair of warm mittens. There’s a lot of alpaca in this project! And secondly, I’m essentially knitting four mittens (two pairs) during the Games.

Oh, yeah! What yarns did I pick for this little adventure?


For the outer mitten, I’m using two colors of Ultra Alpaca. I plan to use the navy blue as the background/predominant color with the light blue for the stars. The electric blue is Blue Sky Alpacas 100% Alpaca Sport Weight and will be used for the lining.


I wound the yarn at Knit Night last Thursday (pre-Snowpocalypse) and did a swatch. I got gauge for my size (7 sts/inch) on a US 4 needle/3.5mm needle, so I’ll be magic looping this project starting on Friday night.


I love the swatch. It's gonna be an awesome pair of mittens.

My personal choice is to skip the Ravelympics and participate in the Yarn Harlot’s Knitting Olympics. And that's where my mini-breakdown comes in to play.

I've been attacked by a major case of second-guessing. Am I being ambitious enough, or is this a cop-out project? I've done colorwork mittens before, so even though this is essentially two pairs of mittens, is it a Big enough project? Is it "epic" enough? Hell, I finished my last pair of mittens in two days.

I have yarn and pattern for a spring cabled sweater (Rowan Pima Cotton/Pavillion -- Rav link) in my basement, but I'm hesitant to do a sweater with sleeves because I'm still shrinking and am unsure of my "finished" size, but I could switch to that project at the last minute. But is that too much to bite off? I still have a Hubster with a broken collarbone who requires shuttle service. I'm (probably) about to take on a thrice-weekly writing assignment. I want to be able to live my life around my Olympics project and still sleep and not overwhelm myself and all that good stuff. But is a pair of mittens Olympic Enough?

Maybe I should think of this in a slightly different way. Maybe I'm the utility player on the fourth line of the Olympic hockey team. I still made the team. I still go to all the practices and suit up for the Games, but I'm getting 5-10 minutes of ice time a night because I'm young and this is my first Olympics, and when we roll around to the Sochi Games in 2014, I'll be the first-line All-Star working on an Epic Sweater instead of mittens.

Am I crazy? Did I just get cold feet when it came time to officially sign up for the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics? Please, people. Talk me down off of this ledge!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Red, White and Blue!

In about 72 hours, the Vancouver Olympics will be officially underway. And I now have the perfect hat to show my support for Team USA during the Games.

I was inspired by hats like this and this that I saw on a TV stand-up done atop the Green Monster during the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway on New Year’s Day. I actually thought that the orange/Flyers Colored (gag) hat in the second link was Red/White/Blue on first look. Once I realized it was in Flyers colors (gag) and specifically a Winter Classic hat, I gave up and found a different pattern.

Once I saw Tiennie’s Norwegian Star Very Warm Hat I (Ravelry link), I knew precisely what I wanted to do with the Berroco Pure Merino that I got on clearance at Bloomin Yarns.

Meet my Hybrid Hat


Once again, Derf is a fantastic knitwear model!

I called it a Hybrid because it’s a 50/50 combo between Tiennie’s Norwegian Star Earflap hat and Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Very Warm Hat.


Three cheers for self-photography!

When I knit this again … and I will knit it again. I’ve already procured another hat’s worth of Pure Merino because that yarn is really awesome … I’m going to make a few modifications, but I’m still very happy with the original.


Oh yeah! It’s reversible! It’s also a little too tall and flares a bit at the bottom, which I’m not thrilled about. I started the hat with Judy’s Magic Cast-On, then knit in each direction from there. Sadly, when I was about an inch into the hat, I realized that I had inadvertently done JMCO in ecru, not the white I had intended. I wound up un-picking the JMCO and doing a knit a row-purl a row-knit a row turn in white before starting with the navy side of the hat. I should have skipped the second knit row (or used the correct yarn to cast on), as I think that mistake contributes to the slight bell-shape of the hat.

But all in all? I’m really happy with it and it’s very warm. Win!


Hybrid Hat

Pattern: Combo of the Norwegian Star Earflap Hat by Tiennie
and Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Very Warm Hat
Yarn: Berrocco Pure Merino
Colors: Peacoat, Simply Red, Snow Bunny
Yardage: 1.5 skeins (184 yards) each of the Red and Navy.
About ¾ of the skein (60-ish yards) of white
Needles: US 8/5.0mm 16” KA bamboo needles
Started: 28 January 2010
Finished: 31 January 2010
Mods: I tried to use JMCO to start the hats, and that would have worked great. I’ll do it in the correct color when I knit this hat again!

BTW: This is my 500th post. Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Snow. Snow. More Snow.

I had grand plans for the second half of last week. I have a Knitting Olympics post I need to share. And a kick-ass new hat that I love and that I can't wait to show you.

But there was nothing to show you on Wednesday that was different from the previous Wednesday. (Like literally nothing. How boring is that?). I spent Thursday doing a job application for a part-time position that I think would be a really good fit. Then, Friday happened.

They said the snow was going to start around lunchtime. At about 12:05 pm, someone “hit the switch” and the snow started. It was freaky that the weather reports were so dead-on accurate on the timeline.


This was around 4 p.m. EST on Friday. A little snow, but really not much.

Pretty shortly after the Hubster got home – he left the office shortly after 3 p.m., and I picked him up at the Castle Shannon trolley stop around 4:25 p.m. – it really started to come down.

We went to sleep knowing that we probably had about eight inches on the ground. I woke up at about 2:45 a.m. and realized almost instantly that we didn’t have any electricity. Or heat. Went back to sleep.

Woke up again at 7 a.m. I couldn’t go back to sleep without having an idea of how long we’d been without power, so I came downstairs and poked around for a while. Figured out the power went out about 1 a.m. It was chilly in the house, but not too bad. Yet. Went back to bed. Hey, it wasn’t really daylight yet and it was still snowing!


I got moving around 9:30 a.m. It was instantly apparent that there was a lot of snow on the ground.


Those snow-covered lines are the dead power lines. We were power-free for 36 hours.

And just as much in the back yard. That yardstick is showing 24 inches of snow. That’s TWO FEET. Yikes.


It pretty much took the whole morning to clear the front walk. Front walk isn’t straight, so it was a bit of a guessing game to figure out where I needed to shovel next. Oh, and I was shoveling solo, since Hubster is still on injured reserve with a broken collarbone. He’s healing, but hasn’t healed enough to deal with this kind of snow.


By early afternoon, I had dug out enough to get over to SuperNeighbor’s house and start on his driveway. If the power didn’t come back on by nightfall, Option #1 was to make it over to my parents house, but walking would be a nightmare and their condo complex had barely been touched by plows. Therefore, no place to park.

Option #2 was staying at SuperNeighbor’s house. Fortunately, by mid-afternoon, enough neighbors had gotten out to say that if you were careful, the roads weren’t unreasonable. I quit shoveling around 4:30 p.m. in order to shower and pack. SuperNeighbor drove us over to my parents house, where we spent the night. Power company had our side of the street back to 2010 technology by roughly noon on Sunday, and we were home right after the Penguins game … shortly after 3 p.m. House was cold, but it was good to be home.


Links after the pictures will take you to my Flickr set with more detailed descriptions of each photo. Enjoy!


1. CtrDormer.jpg, 2. CleanCorolla.jpg, 3. 7FebOfficeDormer.jpg, 4. Streetlight.jpg, 5. Icicles2.jpg, 6. JustStarting.jpg, 7. MeasureBackyard.jpg, 8. 8FebHouse.jpg, 9. BuriedCorolla.jpg, 10. CoveredCorolla.jpg, 11. OfficeDormer.jpg, 12. Roof6FebDusk.jpg, 13. Icicles1.jpg, 14. Dogwood.jpg, 15. FrontLattice.jpg, 16. Allenberry.jpg, 17. MeasureFront2.jpg, 18. 21inches.jpg, 19. 7FebSunset.jpg, 20. Frontyard.jpg, 21. House6Feb.jpg, 22. Woodbridge.jpg, 23. WoodbridgeMboxes.jpg

Monday, February 01, 2010

Soft and Snuggly

This is the third cowl I’ve knit in about six weeks, and probably my favorite.


I like my Stonehenge very much, but it’s fairly loose. This cowl is very snug and takes great advantage of a mistake rib pattern. I love mistake rib!

Size US 8.5 woman’s foot (mine) included for scale.

It’s also a very long cowl. It’s every inch of a skein of Malabrigo Twist. When I was out of yarn, it was time to stop! Actually, I guessed wrong the first time and had to un-do ¾ of the bind-off, rip out another round and start over. I finished with Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off.


It was immediately obvious that this cowl wouldn’t look good bear-modeled. But it did make a nice full-Baxter bear cosy! I’ve found myself reaching for this cowl first, and it’s very warm and comfortable. I love it!


Sherbrooke Cowl

Pattern: Sherbrooke Cowl by Lauren Weinhold
Yarn: Malabrigo Twist
Color: Indetica
Yardage: 1 skein/150 yards
Needles: US 9/5.5mm, 16” KA Switch
Started: 23 January 2010
Finished: 24 January 2010
Mods: None