Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I'm a bad gift knitter

Before I get into the ugliness, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I had planned to post a "happy holidays" entry, but last minute preparations for everything got in the way. I'm lucky I managed to have clean underwear to pack for my Christmas trip north.

OK... so you remember all those mysterious Christmas Gift knits I had listed on the side there? There were, like, six things listed. I started pretty much everything earlier this year. Yeah, well, out of the six things I got two done--the girls' sweaters. That's it. Nothin' else. The other items? Here's a status report:
  • Christmas gift #1"Watchcap" -- started the earliest for my mother's boyfriend. Status: my attempt to alter the pattern from worsted to DK weight yarn resulted in a bigger hat than I wanted. However, my mother really wanted it for herself, so I started a new one (in worsted weight) for him and have not yet finished this one for her.
  • Christmas gift #1a"Watchcap--redoux" -- Status: about an inch of knitting done.
  • Christmas Gift #3"Bluefoot" -- socks for my youngest sister. Status: Gusset stitches picked up for one sock. Other one still waiting. I really thought that I'd get these done, but
  • Christmas Gift #5 -- socks for my mother to match the sweater she's working on. Status: yarn bought, no pattern, no swatching, no nothin' but skeins of yarn.
  • Christmas Gift #6 -- headband or hat for my other sister. Status: yarn bought for both options. Headband in mid-swatch; nothing on the hat.

See, I told you. I suck.

I don't know what happened. Everything was planned out well in advance. But coming down the homestretch, I collapsed like an old nag. Seriously, though, I think the combination of work, the transit strike (with its 2+ hour commute each way), last minute Christmas shopping, and scrambling to finish the girls' sweaters a week earlier than planned did me in. (Plus my thumbs hurt. I think it from the intense hotel knitting.) It all burned me out. I last touched the socks on the train home on Thursday night (the only ride last week where I managed to stay conscious that whole way). Until last night, I hadn't picked up the needles since then, and even at that I knit 12 stitches of Jim's armsock and called it a night.

Maybe the deadline thing just doesn't work for me. I'm thinking that maybe I should just start and finish the items whenever I do, and people will just get random gifts of knitting. Whenever it's done, it's done. Maybe I just need some time off to rest and regroup.

This weekend I'll be heading back up to Vermont for a week off. Maybe a little quiet time with some Malabrigo will help me relax.

In the meantime, here's the picture of the peaceful holiday village that I was going to post for Christmas. Hope you enjoy it, even if it's a little late.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Strange Elves

Christmas Elf Name

My Christmas Elf Name is
Get your Christmas Elf Name at JokesUnlimited.com

I'm not sure what to think about mine.

However, I do like Jim's.

Christmas Elf Name

My Christmas Elf Name is
Get your Christmas Elf Name at JokesUnlimited.com

So, what do you think. Does it fit him or what?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Two Christmas Gifts Are Finished! And Gifted!!!

Yes, people, hell has frozen over!!! I managed to finish and give two of the Christmas gifts--the sweaters for my nieces!

Yankee Knitter Designs #20--Easy Bulky Sweater
Lamb's Pride Bulky (RPM Pink and Amethyst)
Sizes XS and S

Of course, I still had to finish the sleeve lengths after they tried them on (which I did last night), but the girls now have their sweaters! I spent most of my trip on Amtrak seaming the pink one, and finished everything but the bottom of the sleaves Saturday night in the hotel we stayed at, in front of their fireplace and HDTV.

I was happy with the fit of the purple one, but the pink one seems a little small, but I think the next size up would swim on her. I think she grew a bit since more than I expected. Still, I really like the sweaters and, more importantly, so do my nieces.

Unfortunately, these two girls were the only gift recipients on this trip to my sister's. I've had no time to really do anything Christmas shopping related, and, well, just read my last post and you'll see why.

In any case, I'm pretty much done with the big stuff at work, so maybe I can now get some stuff done during lunch.

Of course, with the transit strike an hour away and the LIRR unions rumored to be honoring the picket lines, it looks like I've got a day off tomorrow.

Newsflash: I'm watching the news, and the union
has rejected the last offer and have left the building. Get your sneakers

Guess I may be off tomorrow. Well, it's a chance to go Christmas shopping, and maybe get a haircut and highlights, and get an oil change for my car, and maybe get back to some blogging...

For now, on to Project Bluefoot, which without a train commute for knitting is going to be a challenge. How many days until Christmas?

I leave you with another picture of the north fork of the island from the ferry.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tis the season to be... Freakin' Stressed!

I apologize... It's been 12 days since my last entry... I've been too busy... work... books that gotta make December... compositors that won't freakin' cooperate... performance reviews... I written 5--FIVE--performance reviews in the last week... too tired to think...

Been sleeping instead of gift knitting... running out of time... the nieces' sweaters need to be done by 3pm afternoon... ohmygodohmygodohmygod!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Breath.. must breath...

Must knit! Gotta go knit! Will blog next week--I hope!?!?!?

OK, maybe just one picture. From this past weekend, up in Vermont.

Yeah, a relaxing weekend in Vermont, setting up a new computer... writing performance reviews... trying to squeeze correct proof out of offshore compositors... cooking dinner and changing light bulbs in ceiling fixtures and setting up a Christmas tree--all at the same freakin' once.

Excuse me while I go fortify myself...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Crazy Aunt Purl Tags Everybody

Laurie tagged everybody last week, so here goes...

TEN random things you might not know about me.
1: I tend to over analyze things.
2: When I travel, I take pictures of the hotel rooms--bathrooms included.
3: I'm a dog person.
4: When I'm driving over a state border, I left my feet. (I don't want to skid into another state!)
5: I'm a civil war reenactor.
6: My fantasy job is to be one of the Reeferettes--Jimmy Buffett's backup singers.
7: I love milk--have since I was a child.
8: I worked at the racetrack for 10 years before I worked in publishing.
9: My father passed away in 1997 and I miss him every day.
10: I drive a Subaru Forester.

NINE places I’ve visited
1: Vermont (a lot).
2: the other states in New England.
3: Williamsburg, VA.
4: Toronto.
5: Maine.
6: Chicago.
7: Atlanta.
8: Orlando.
9: San Diego.

EIGHT ways to win my heart
1: Rub my feet.
2: Take me to a Jimmy Buffet concert.
3: Be kind to strangers.
4: Feed me filet mignon, garlic mashed potatoes, and a nice red wine.
5: Remember my birthday.
6: Take me to my favorite creamy stand in the summer.
7: Give me flowers for no reason at all.
8: Take me to a yarn shop!

SEVEN things I want to do before I die
1: Live in New England.
2: Get married.
3: Visit all of the Margaritaville Cafes.
4: Go to Ireland.
5: Attend baseball games at Fenway and Wrigley Field.
6: Go camping in Maine.
7: Go back to school and get my MBA.

SIX things I’m afraid of
1: Being trapped underground.
2: Cancer.
3: Heights.
4: Rough seas.
5: Roller coasters.
6: Another terrorist attack.

FIVE things I don't like
1: Loud cell phone talkers, especially on the train.
2: Seafood.
3: Cole slaw.
4: Cablevision.
5: Pickles, especially if they're touching my french fries.

FOUR ways to turn me off
1: Be rude to others.
2: Be insensitive.
3: Be self absorbed.
4: Invade my personal space without my permission.

THREE Things I do everyday
1: Knit.
2: Talk to my sweetheart.
3: Listen to public radio.

TWO things that make me happy
1: My significant other, Jim.
2: My nieces.

ONE thing on my mind right now
1: ... I must finish the gift knitting...

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Birthday Yarn Crawl—Part One

I spent Thanksgiving with my mother and youngest sister, but Friday morning I headed up to Vermont to spend an extended weekend (and my birthday) with my sweetheart, Jim. I started my trip north on Friday with a stop of Fabric Place in Cromwell, CT—site of my Malabrigo obsession a couple of weeks ago. My friend Elsie loved the skein of Stonechat I had bought, so I picked up one for her. When I gave it to her this week, she cuddled it like a puppy. (I’m telling you, the Malabrigo has powers…) Of course, this followed me out of the store.

I’m such a Malabrigo ho.

Then it was back on to the interstate and an hour later a stop at Webs. I didn’t get out of there as easily as Fabric Place, thanks to a sale on this:

Kureyon: colors 51 and 164.

I picked up two skeins of each. (The bottom one is definitely going to be some Hurry Up Spring Armwarmers.) I had a third color in my hands, but wound up refraining. I also picked up some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky for some more hats (one a gift, the other I don’t know). In the warehouse area I managed to find the last three balls of Karabella Majestic in a medium blue. Perfect for another pair of socks! In all, I spent enough to get their 20% discount on everything but the Noro, which was a bahgain at $6 a skank skein. After I closed the store, I stopped here for some wine, here for some groceries, and then arrived in Vermont around 9pm.

Then Saturday afternoon I went up to Adams Farm for their spinning circle. I love Adams Farm! I try to go to their knitting circle on Sundays when I’m around, but because Jim and I were going to be away this weekend, I stopped by on Saturday. It was so good to see Jenny and Elizabeth, the women running the spinning circle, and they helped me to do some spinning with a hookie stick and a spindle. See what I made!

The greenish one is plied; the other is a small (maybe 3 yards?) skein of yarn made from three different fibers. (I'll swatch it soon to show the differences.) I had attempted this last spring but found it difficult and awkward. This time it went much better. Over the winter I’m going to try and get over to Adams Farm more often. If you’re ever in southern Vermont, you should make every effort to stop by this fabulous place.

Of course, I couldn’t walk out of there without buying some of this:

It’s from their own sheep, and it’s even softer than Morehouse Merino. I bought four of them. I think it’s going to be a scarf. (The colors look great with my down jacket.) I have no idea what kind of scarf, though. I'm open to suggestions on what to do with 4 ounces of this yarn. Anybody?

Next time… the second half of the yarn crawl!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Hats done!

Here's my contribution to Knit Unto Others, just before they went to the post office for their trip to Indiana. I had wanted to knit a couple more, but I'm happy that I got these two done. I hope they make someone feel happy and warm.

I don't have much time to blog today, but I promise more blogging about my birthday yarn crawl last weekend. My birthday was this past Monday, and I spent my little weekend away going from yarn shop to yarn shop dropping some dough. And I even did some spinning, too! Carole got to see a little of it on Sunday, but I'll show y'all the rest soon.

In the meantime, here's a picture from our stop in Sturbridge, Mass. on Monday. I think it's pretty even without the leaves.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Pre-Holiday Knitting Update

I've managed to make better progress on my Knit Unto Others hats--yes, you read that right, HATS!

If I'd had DPNs on the train with me Monday night, I would have finished the one on the right. (It's a plum/purple, even though the picture doesn't look it.) Now all that's left is tieing off the top and weaving the ends in. Then after I got home, I cast on the pink one and started knitting at the dentist yesterday morning. (Yeah, I'm still not done with the whole dentist thing. Yesterday was a temporary crown for the root canal tooth. In three weeks I go back for the permanent crown.)

Here I am modeling the purple hat.

Zee hat... she is mysterious, oui?

Just think of the DPNs as a design element...

These are going so quickly I might be able to make a third one before the 30th. Woo-hoo!

I'd like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you're able to spend time with those you are dearest to you. I'm going to be spending Thanksgiving day with my mother and youngest sister. Then, after a brief trip to the office Friday morning (ugh!) I'm heading up north to Vermont to spend the rest of the weekend (which I'm extending through Tuesday) with my honey! And... on Sunday we're heading down to another meeting in Massachusetts and we're gonna get to see Carole and her honey! And, you know, there it's possible that I might even stop at a yarn store, or two, or more? Maybe??? Of course!

Monday, November 21, 2005

You might be an obsessive knitter...

...if one of the criteria for buying a new handbag is... will it hold a 14" needle?


I'm so bad...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Knit Unto Others

I only have time for a quick blog posting today, but I wanted to give Carole and Margene a shout out for their charity knit along, Knit Unto Others. I've been putting off doing charity knitting 'cause between work and the gift knitting, I couldn't bring myself to start another project. But the short duration (2 weeks) of this knit along nudged me into action. So, I'm using some stash yarn to make at least one hat--Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Super Chunky that I got for half price. I originally thought I'd do something for my nieces with this, but there are so many other things I want to make for them, I think this would be better used for a soft, warm, pretty hat for someone. (My hat(s) are going to Ann's efforts to help tornado victims.) I'm using a hat pattern out of The Yarn Girls' first book. After doing a little gauge swatching Thursday night, I cast on yesterday morning and managed to get this done last night at the movies.

That's just about 4 inches of ribbing. By the way, this was the first time that I've done knitting in a movie theater! While watching a movie! In the dark!!! (I saw "Pride and Prejudice." Great movie!) And I only messed up three stitches in the ribbing! Easy fix. This morning I finished the ribbing and switched to stockinette, and I'm figuring that I'll have I should have it finished by Wednesday. Big yarn + no seaming = quick project!

So, Knit Unto Others runs through November 30th, so if you've got a some time and yarn, why not knit a little something for someone in need?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sunday in Connecticut with Jim

Yes, Jim and I did indeed go to Fabric Place Sunday morning. He wound up purchasing some fabric to be used as table coverings in the LHA’s sutlery. I walked out with this:

Actually, there are two of the green ones. I’m going to give those to one of my sisters for Christmas. The other skank skein (Dusty Olive) is for me. I’m so bad…

I couldn’t help myself. Look at all that Malabrigo!

After the Fabric Place visit, we ran some errands and then made a trip to Ikea in New Haven. Jim’s never been to Ikea before and since we were only 25 miles north of the store, I thought, what the heck.

It’s a bigger store than the one we have on Long Island. Jim liked it, in particular the kitchen setups. This kitchen island was his favorite.

Look at those drawers for the pots! I could keep my Le Creuset dutch ovens in those!

Well, despite all the looking we did, we were good and didn’t purchase anything—this time. I did see several potential yarn/fiber containers that I liked. If I ever decide that I really need to organize my yarn stash, I’ll have to make a trip back.

- - - - - - - - - -

This Sunday is my finishing class at The Point. I finished up my homework swatches last week. (Early at something, for a change.) Today I found two e-mail from The Point noting that there were errors in the homework instructions.

That’s one of my big knitting pet peeves—typos in the instructions. How do you let something like that get out? My first project for myself—the alpaca scarf—had a typo in the instructions for the 10-row pattern. I contacted Webs once I discovered the error for correction, and although it took a little while to get back to me, they did indeed confirm the error and gave me a fix. But then they said told me that they had been giving that pattern out for a long time and this was the first time anyone reported a problem. I don’t get it. Do people just wing it and whatever happens happens? Well, that’s not me. If you’re gonna put out technical instructions, make sure that they’re right, and if an error is found, fix it for God’s sake!
OK, I’m done with my little rant.

So, I’ve ripped out the error laden swatch, but I’m still not sure the revised instructions are correct, so I’m going to call them today. The math just isn’t working. Hopefully I can get this resolved today so that I can re-finish this in time for the class.

In the meantime, I leave you a picture of my new lace weight skanks skeins with my barn coat. The colors are lovely, yes? I can’t wait to get started on these…

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Another weekend out of the office!


Yesterday we had the Living History Association's annual meeting up in Ivoryton, Connecticut. (We meaning the organization that my significant other runs and I'm on the Board of Directors of.) Originally I had planned to take Friday off and stop in some yarn shops before checking in to the hotel. Sadly, I couldn't do that but I did manage to get out a little early and with little traffic on the road (holiday) got up to the hotel around 8pm. And you know what's right across the street from my hotel?

Fabric Place! And you know what's they've got? Yarn!!! Lots of yarn!!! Lots of different brands of yarn! They're yarn department is the equivilant of a LYS. And usually something on sale! So, of course, I had to stop and see what they've got. First off, all needles and hooks were 20% off, so I scored myself some size 0 Brittany DPNs to fill out my needle stash. Then, all the Classic Elite yarns were 20% off, so I started poking around to see if there was anything I needed.

Well, as I'm wondering around the aisles I turned around and suddenly came face to face with this:

YARN CRACK! MALABRIGO! A whole bunch of it! Like, 13 different colors! I didn't know that they carried this! The women in the department told me that they started selling it a couple of months ago, and the first time they put it out they sold it out instantly. (What a shock--not!) Of course, I had to fondle touch it, and that was it. (Classic Elite? What Classic Elite?) It wasn't a question of whether I would buy it, but what I would buy. Here's what came out of the store with me:

This is Stonechat. (I had trouble choosing between this and Dusy Olive.) Isn't she beautiful? Look at her posing some more...

Look at her basking in the morning sunlight...

Ahhh... Malabrigo...

I'm not too crazy obsessed, am I? Jim keeps laughing at me because of how I can't stop fondling caressing touching this yarn. Between you and me, he doesn't get it. Even though I'm making him an arm sock out of this stuff, he still doesn't get it.

Oh--and to make this even better... While I'm walking around, a knitting group that was meeting at the store suddenly swarmed the department. I wound up on the checkout line behind some of them. Well, after I left the store I took a look at my receipt and discovered they had taken 10% off the price of the yarn (which was at a fair price to start)! They must have given the discount to that group and thought I was with them. Score!!!

Anyway, she's going to be arm warmers--either the Morehouse pattern I have or the Hurry Up Spring Armwarmers from Stitch and Bitch Nation. Once the Christmas gift knitting is done, she's going straight to the top of the list.

They had so many other colors... maybe I should pick up some as a Christmas gift for my sister?

Hotel check out is 11am. Fabric Place opens back up at noon. Think I could convince Jim to stop in for just a few minutes?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Long time, no blog

Well, this is our busy time of the year, so despite my best efforts it's been over a week since my last post. But I'll try to make up for it now with a WIP update.

I must say that even though my commute is long, I'm truly grateful for all the time I get to knit (when I can keep my eyes open). Here's my handy dandy commuting kit from last night.

From left to right, the New York Post (best entertainment value for 25 cents), watch cap for Mom's boyfriend, Project "Bluesocks" for little sister.

I started the watch cap back in the spring, but I've been bad about working on it lately. However, now with Christmas looming I'm going to make the effort to get it done. It's a simple 2x2 rib--I should be able to do it in my sleep! And the socks--the heel flaps are just about done. I haven't tried the socks on yet, but will probably do so before I turn the heel, just to make sure they're OK. (Sis and I have about the same shoe size.) Here's a close up photo of them:

I gotta start knitting some lighter colored stuff. I'm really liking the yarn on these, and I've got four balls in red waiting for me after the holidays.

I've been booking along on "pink cable" for my younger niece. The back is done and I'm about half done with the front. (Sorry, I don't have any pictures but will try to post some this weekend.) Little girl + bulky yarn = quick project! I'm going to hold off on assembling both their sweaters because on Sunday, November 20th... drum roll, please... I'm taking a finishing class at The Point! I'm so psyched! They gave us swatching homework to do before the class, which I'm almost done with. Barbara Kerr is teaching the class, and I'm finally going to learn how to do a three-needle bind-off, sleve attachment, and other cool stuff.

Of course, I couldn't let a week go by without purchasing some yarn, too. At lunch yesterday I decided that I just had to buy a skein of laceweight merino for another scarf from Morehouse Farm Merino at their stand in the Union Square Greenmarket.

The market is just two stops away on the L train. So easy to get to during lunch. You understand, don't you? (Please, please play along...)

After a walk through the market, I came away with some apples, a cup of hot cider, and this:

Yeah, I know, that's two skeins. But the colors looked so nice with my new coat! You'd have done the same thing, you know...

Anyway, I'll leave you with this picture from the market. Nothing beats farm fresh produce.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Today's the 230th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corp. My late
father served in the Corp and was a proud Marine.
Semper Fi, Dad!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Weekend Out of the Office

Greetings from the deck of the Cape Henlopen!

Actually, I’m only writing this on the boat, not posting it from the boat, but please play along.

It seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve had a weekend where I didn’t spend at least one of the days in the office--and bring home a couple of hours worth of work as well. Well, I got to spend this weekend up to Massachusetts!

I started my trip on Saturday morning, originally planning to take the ferry from Orient Point, but I woke up little too late, so I drove around instead. The primary reason for the trip was an event coordinator meeting and a Board meeting on Sunday, but I wanted to spend time with my nieces. So the plan for Saturday was go to my sister’s house and then on to the Wool Patch in Middleboro. (Must visit yarn shops when traveling!)

The ride up I-95 was pretty good, even with all those buses heading up to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Clear weather, pretty foliage along the way.
However, when I was about 20 minutes from my sister’s house that started to change. It got a little spritzy, and before I knew it there was this frozen stuff hitting the windshield. Snow. Making this thud-like sound on the glass. FREAKIN’ SNOW!!!!!

I know, Vermont got hit with a ton of snow last week. I shouldn’t complain. But I’m a Long Island girl. It’s too early for snow. We don’t get snow until maybe January. I’m not ready for snow. (And yes, I drive a Subaru Forester, so this shouldn’t freak me out. But it does.)

Anyway, these big, icy, scattered flakes were melting when they hit the ground, so no biggy. Right? So… I arrive at my sisters’ house, hang out for a bit, and then we put the girls in the car and take off for the Wool Patch, which is only a few miles down the road.

Carole had told me about this shop, so I was anxious to check it out. Located right off I-495, this is a very nice shop. Nice selection and good prices, especially on Cascade 220. I wound up buying just a ball of Rowan Wool Cotton to make some baby socks (I’m trying to be good--really I am), but next time I need some Cascade I’m heading here.

After that we headed back to the house, put a log in the fireplace, and got dinner under way. Oh, and by the way--as the day went on, the snowfall got heavier and heavier. Here’s what it looked like right before dinner:

See the snow on top of that thar roof. Yikes!

When I finally left around 7:30 to drive to my hotel in Milford, there was a good half inch on the ground--and it was still coming down heavy! Amazingly, as I drove up 495, You know how they say if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’ll change,” that’s exactly what happened as I drove north to my hotel. In the space of a half hour, it went from heavy snow to a snow/rain mix, to heavy rain, and then nothin’. By the time I got to the hotel, there was nothing but a little snow on the grassy areas.

Oh, almost forgot--two exits from the hotel I decided to stop at A.C. Moore for a peak at the yarn. Here’s what I walked out with.

All the yarn was 25% off. I bought two of those (for Christmas gift for other sister), two more in royal blue (for me), and a pair of size 10½ needles.

I’m making headbands for all of us. Yes, this is the same headband that my mother’s making for the other sister. Yes, I’m making one for myself in black. Yes, this is excessive.

So much for being good.

Anyway, I finally arrived at the hotel. I had my heart set on spending some time in the whirlpool, but unfortunately it was out of order, so I got myself a glass of wine, did a little blogging, and called it a night.

Next day, after an extra hour of sleep (sweet!), I went off to the meetings. My unit is running a civil war reenactment at Hildene in Vermont, so this was our chance to promote the event to other reenactors. The best part about this meeting was getting to see some friends I hadn’t seen in ages, including… Carole! And Dale! And Hannah!!!

Carole and I had been e-mailing back and forth during the week about getting together, but the last few e-mails never made it to our inboxes. (Gremlins?) I didn’t know she was going to this meeting too, so it was a nice surprise to see the whole family.

We played show and tell with our knitting projects and generally misbehaved (not too badly, though) in the back of the room during the meeting. The time went all too fast. After the coordinator’s meeting was done, Carole had to leave and I had to wait for the Board meeting to start. I may have to make a trip up there again just so Carole and I can make trouble. And martinis. And knit and spin!

The boat’s starting to make the turn around the Orient Point Lighthouse, so it’s time for me to go. Later!