Monday, February 27, 2006

Unexpected Gold

Last night I trekked up to Takoma Park to join some knitters in a closing ceremonies celebration. Three of us were knitting olympians, though I must confess that I never really considered myself part of the team. I mentioned that I had unofficially given myself the deadline of the closing ceremonies to finish Erich's sweater and try to make mittens. And just like that I was given one of the awards of the evening. I'm now the proud owner of KnitLit the third and a certificate: "the Joey Cheek Gold Medal for knitting with intent to enrich the lives of others". Thanks to Hook and I for "hooking" us up with great munchies and an evening of knitting.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Post for Bugheart

Ha! You've bullied me into it. Now you get a post named after you.
Can I blame my lack of posting on too much olympic watching? No? Ok then. The truth is that I used to get a lot of blogging (or LJ'ing) done in the morning at work. When people get to the office late, I often didn't have much to do until 10. However, last week was the workiest week I've ever had. There was no down-time, nor lunch breaks away from my desk. Not even sudoku or the panda-cam saw the light of day! That's intense. Thursday was the peak - I was at the office until 1:30 in the morning and then had to get up again at 4:45 on Friday to be at work by 6.

It's now 1 week after the annual meeting and I guess it took me about 4 days to fully rejoin the land of the living. I got to watch Tai Shan/Butterstick hang out in a tree, have read all necessary blogs, and on Thursday I enjoyed a lovely SnB w/ a small crew.

First up, we have photos of the layer cake I made last week for Valentine's Day - Chocolate layers, with raspberry buttercream filling, and vanilla cream cheese frosting (a rough replica of our wedding cake flavors). Oh was it rich - it was not a good precursor to Erich's cholesterol tests. I apologize for the odd lighting on most of these shots. There is a long story that went into the baking of this cake. But the short version is that it is VERY hard to live with someone and keep something food-related a complete surprise for 24 hours. Thankfully, he made my job somewhat easier by going along with his friends whom I convinced to keep him at a bar for at least 2 hours after I got out of work - surprises are easier to pull off when booze is involved. Can I also say that I might have bitten off more than I could chew as evidenced by the fact that I DREAMT about the stupid thing? And it was borderline nightmare. See, I wasn't able to finish everything before he got home. So I put all the unassembled pieces and fillings into a huge box and hid it in the closet. My plan was to wake up at 6am the next day to put it all together. Of course, I then dreamt that when I opened the box the next day, a rodent of some kind had gotten into the box and nibbled at everything. That disaster never materialized though, and the cake was a hit. I think we're a bit fatter though now. It's as if the marriage license came with a rider that we must gain 20 pounds before our 1st anniversary. Erich and I are right on track.

Next on the list are the mittens I finished during the first olympic week. The mitten you saw in the last post is ready to be unraveled because it really didn't fit properly. It did teach me a lot about the pattern and how to calculate all of the measurements. Mitten #2 was really the first of the pair I would end up wearing. Mitten #3 was on track to match it's mate, until I found a stupid break in the yarn half-way up the palm - except it was tied together at a color-point much farther away. In other words, because of the break they had tried to repair, the mitten suddenly went from yellow/orane to dark red. That TOTALLY disrupts the beauty of Kureyon!! My OCD self slowly got over that though and I've come to terms with it - besides these kinds of mittens just beg a Punky Brewster aesthetic.

And finally, we have the olympic sweater. Do you get the double meaning? Both in the timing of when I finished it and in the way this project reached monolithic heights - hannging over me for over a year and mocking my inability to pick the pieces up, tapestry needle in hand. I must confess that it's not really done yet. That would just be too easy. I still have to sew over the collar, crew neck style, as well as weave in the ends. And truthfully, its much too big for the man. The sleeves and torso are too long - I sort of knew that would be the case because I picked the pattern size based on his chest size, but then never decreased that number of pattern repeats in the body to yield a shorter garment. Meh. first time knitting a garment - it could be worse. At least there are holes for a head, and 2 arms. At SnB, Bugheart reluctantly suggested that there is a method that involves cutting away a chunk at the bottom and then unraveling to the correct length (taking into account the final section of ribbing. This of course scares the crap out of me. But because of the nature of this sweater, it kind of deserves to at least FIT the owner. Right? Perhaps that kind of yarn surgery is the only option. Any volunteers?

Final thoughts: I had my first tastes of podcasts this week. It started with Cast On and NPR's Story of the Day. I'm hooked! First of all, I take back all the skeptical silly thoughts I had about the idea of a knitting podcast. It's surprisingly engaging and funny. Thanks PassionKNITly for cluing me in. I highly recommend checking out Cast On with Brenda Dayne. I've had trouble locating the NPR clips that I usually listen to on the radio: All Things Considered, This American Life, etc. Instead, I've only downloaded Story of the Day and Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me. The only drawback to these podcasts is that I now find myself walking down the street or sitting on the bus with this dopey grin on my face because I'm so amused. Its worse than just tapping my feat to a song. But I just tell myself that the world needs more people wearing dopey grins as they commute to work.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Snow, stitches, and stew

What a perfect weekend for a snowstorm! The only things I had planned were knitting and watching the olympics. I very much enjoyed the opening cermonies, but I'm a sucker for things like that.
Favorite parts:

    dozens of people moving together to make up a gigantic skier
    acrobats hanging from vertical ropes and ending up as a dove
    skaters with the flaming helmets

Least favorite part:
    some American snowboarder chic marching to the stage with the US team while talking on her cell phone!!

The snow's been coming down here for about 2 hours, but its not sticking yet.
And now for the good stuff: I started seaming the sweater last night!! It just seemed like a good project to busy myself with during the 4 or 5 hours that the olympic cermony went on. Well, first I had to finish my first mitten, but after THAT I consulted Stitch-n-Bitch and a Debbie Bliss How to Knit book to get some seaming directions. Sadly, neither book (nor any website I could find) discussed how to do raglan seams. They desribed side seaming with stockinette, or garter. Also top seaming and a couple other options. So in the end I kind of had to wing it, which obviously scared the crap out of me given the magnitude of this project. Because of my timidness, it took me quite a while to do that first seam (left front) but I have to admit, I kind of enjoyed it. It's really satisfying to give that yarn a little tug after a few inches and see both sides kind of zip up together. Debbie Stoller was right about that. The rest of the night was spent weaving in ends from mitten #1 and casting on for mitten #2. I did about 3 inches on that before I realized that I was doing 2 x 2 rib instead of the 1 x 1 rib that mitten #1 had. Obviously that's not cool so I had to undo it. I'm now back up to 3 inches on mitten #2. Did I mention that I decided to let the Kureyon colors do whatever they wish and not try to match anything up? So mitten one starts with orange, then yellow, green, brownish, reddish, magenta/purple, and then the thumb is magenta. Now, mitten #2 is blue, turquoise, purple, green, yellow....haha. it's great. Maybe its my homage to Punky Brewster.
Today I finished the remaining raglan seams and began the crew neck. I still can't believe that all of those sweater pieces are now connected!! It's like a real piece of clothing..sort of. I've done about 1 inch of the ribbing at the neck so I have a ways to go before I can cast off FOR THE LAST TIME.

I also felt like cooking today. But not necessarily like going grocery shopping. So, I made up something that's a mix between a stew, chili, and soup. I basically needed to use up the frozen chicken thighs that I HATE because they have fat all over them and are a pain to prepare. Gram suggested a soup. But I don't really know how to just wing that - plus the kind of soup she meant has celery and carrots which I don't have on hand. So I challenged myself to use up a bunch of ingredients: chicken thighs, black beans, stewed tomatoes, and chicken stock. There are a bunch of spices in there too. I may add rice toward the end. Or not. ha! It doesn't really matter cuz I made it up! Of course, I'm an imbecile and thought the crock pot was plugged in and essentially let everything sit in the pot for over an hour NOT cooking. At this rate, it won't really be ready for dinner.


Final note: I've discovered the best song for working out at the gym: Cowgirl by Underworld. I recently rediscovered this song when it ended up on our mp3 player and started playing while I was on the ellyptical the other day. Amazing! It was briliant - I really went into this zen state and just felt like grinning. I once had Underworld's album Second Toughest in the Infants, but I might have sold it back to Newbury Comics more than 4 years ago. I had a techno phase once - before the ska phase. Plus an Underworld song was on the Hackers soundtrack which held a lot of sway with me. Warning: don't listen the song unless you're actually working out, or like, running outside. Its very repetitive...as good techno always was. Now I'm wondering how much of my former techno collection I actually still own. Oh, and I should admit something rather embarassing about my music collection from high school. Many of the purchases I made were simply because of an ex-boyfriend. Whoever he was into, I went out and bought. I don't think I did that for more than a few months, but it was long enough for me to look back on those CDs later and laugh at myself. Consequently, I have an oddly diverse music collection, even if I can't remember a thing about 30% of the artists.


This final pic is of the hottie I live with modeling a cabled hat (my first hat!) that was supposed to be for my brother, but ended up going to charity.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Unseasonable

Cupcake has goaded me into making a knittilicious post - I feel I must oblige her. That and the fact that I spent over an hour in line today at Stitch DC for their 20% off everything sale prompted this post. I never thought I would participate in their sale, but I've been in such a knitting slump for the past few weeks that I thought a yarn store might cheer me up. It sort of did. And I used the discount to get Noro Kureyon - a yarn I've always loved, but didn't think I could afford.That logic was also used on my purchase of 40" addi turbos. I have heard wonderful things about them, but I love my Denise set so much I didn't want to cheat on her with Addis. I think I have avoided any needle jealousy though, because the Addis I needed were size 1 or 2 and the Denise set doesn't have those. My plan is to finally try out socks or mittens using the infamous Magic Loop method. Wheee!

In another attempt to get excited about knitting again, I broke out Erich's aran sweater for the first time in months to get blocking and eventually seaming. Once upon a time (over 8 mos. ago) I said I was all done knitting that sucker, but I re-read the pattern a bit later and realized that after partially seaming it together, I get to knit up the neck a bit. Doh! I've been stuck in this rut on the sweater because all I want to do is seam it up, but I read that I should first block the pieces because it will make seaming much easier (also the arms are different sizes so I have to fix that). Then the task of blocking this monster paralyzed me for quite a while. I finally made this huge blocking board last weekend, but as it turns out, I don't really need it. The kitchen table works just fine. Did I mention that this period of procrastination has been going on since Christmas 2004? Yeah, it was supposed to be gifted way back then. My SnB'ers can attest to that. If I didn't have their support (and dare I say, nagging?) I think I would have just let this project die a slow death in a bag somewhere. I don't want to give the impression that I'm sick of it. I really can't wait to see it finished. But I finished the fun knitting part so long ago that it kind of feels like a homework assignment now. Sorry for the slight blurriness on this last photo. I hope you can still see the stitch detail.

I still am on the fence about participating in the knitting olympics. But the next two projects I have lined up are socks (possibly Falling Leaves from knitty) and mittens out of the Kuryeon. I think I succeeded in picking a colorway that's totally the opposite of what I usually go for. That was my point. I'm sick of having all black things - coat, shoes, gloves, pants, etc. My goal is to make loud mittens. And I also prohibited myself from getting blue today. It's too much of a cop-out for me since everything I buy (both clothing and things for the apt.) are in shades of blue.
While I like this ├╝berwarm winter we're having, it makes projects like wool mittens seem a little absurd. I will not let unseasonable weather change my knitting habits though.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Hello Photo

How does this work with blogger?



Over Christmas break, I did some potting with my mother-in-law. She's amazing and as of 5 days ago, is the proud owner of her very own wheel. This photo was taken in the art association's studio. Those are my hands and that is a wanna-be bowl, about to fall apart because it became to plate-like. I managed to complete 2 bowls and will leave the glazing up to her discretion and talent.

Hello?

Is this thing on? Testing...
Would you believe that the only reason it took me this long to set this up was because I was paralyzed by the decision to come up with a title? It was very intimidating: it had to be creative, unique, not cliche, not necessarily ONLY about knitting...
In the end I just blindly picked an impulsive name. No sleeping on it or anything. Must change the template though. If it's Friday and I'm at work, does this count as blogging during work hours? Come on, it's FRIDAY!