Monday, December 31, 2007

final finished object of 2007

One last finished object!

It's not blocked, and the ends aren't woven in yet, but I'm calling the sweater done! It's the uber-comfy Berkshire Pullover from Weekend Knitting. I used the Patons UpCountry from the failed, cabled turtleneck pattern. It's going to be lovely once I get that huge roll at the bottom to relax and just hang...

I added a little bit of waist shaping on the sweater, because I was concerned that it would be too tunic-y. I also shortened the sleeves by a few inches, because my arms are pretty short. I did this in just a couple of days, and am really pleased to have one more thing finished before the end of 2007.

I'll share some action shots over the weekend. I'm still fighting this cold, and am in no shape to have a picture taken! I tried to go to the drugstore to find some over-the-counter medicine, but the options are too too confusing when your head is swimming. I eventually left without anything. But it also appears that almost all the cold medication is now behind the checkout counter, and I have no idea how I'd be able to go up there and remember exactly which item I selected. There's your selection of symptoms, day or night version, rapid release or slow going... thanks, meth addicts!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

prize winner!

I acquired a cold on Thursday night, and I've been trying to recover ever since. What really lifted my spirits yesterday morning was finding my prize package from the 2007 Spin-Out! I made a donation to the Heifer Project, and was lucky enough to win one of the prizes. When I got the email, I was a bit nervous that I'd open the box in a few days and find lots and lots of roving, or some other spinning supplies that I can't use. Happily, it's all knitting here!

There's a beautiful skein of sock yarn from Mama Blue Knitting Goods in Lagoon, which I think are destined to be the cabled socks from the IK holiday issue. (The varigated yarn used in the magazine was a poor choice, and I think that these are going to look much better.) There's also a beaded shawl kit from Ellene Warren, and a collapsable yarn basket. Thank you to all of those who donated gifts, those who made donations to Heifer, and to Cara for organizing the whole event!

Friday, December 28, 2007

knitting on the road

My trip upstate earlier this week provided quite a bit of knitting time.

I didn't quite finish this sock while upstate, but the first one is done now. The yarn is Blue Ridge Yarns, which I got at Rhinebeck this year. It was an impulse purchase at the end of the day, and once I got it home, I realized that I didn't love it. Given my recent experience with pooling sock yarn, I was concerned about this. However, all fretting has come to naught, because the sock is beautiful, and I now adore the colorway. And have I mentioned that I love a stockinette sock?

A recent review of my stash revealed far more sock yarn than I could ever knit into socks, so I decided to use this huge skein (560 yards!) of Seacoast Handpainted for a Chevron Scarf from LMKG. It's 25% shorter in width, but I like it just fine. There's no schedule for it, and I'll just grab it whenever I need an on-the-go project. (Look at all this pre-holiday knitting going on!)

I've also started Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Sweater on Two Needles. It's my first EZ project, and I'm very excited about it. I've got a bunch of her projects that I want to start in the new year... including a bunch of mittens.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

gift reveal

Now that all of the presents have been gifted, I can share the pair of socks that I made for Mom. It's the Slipped Stitch Rib sock from Sensational Knitted Socks. As per Mom's request, I used the darkest yarn in my collection: the Spruce colorway of Mountain Colors Bearfoot. The stitch pattern is really cushy, and I think it would be really good for a yarn that's pooling like mad; just a little slipping to break up the swirls. I also really liked the Bearfoot, which has some mohair, so they will be really warm.

All in all, I gifted four pairs of socks, four scarves, three hats, three pairs of mittens or handwarmers, and a (last minute) neckwarmer this Christmas. I knit a bunch of these over the summer, and stashed them away for the right opportunity. I'm definietly going to do the same for 2008, and start even earlier!

Today is gray and rainy, so I'm going to relax with a sunny-colored sock and the DVD of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop for a while. Add a cup of coffee and I'm good for the afternoon!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

jolly chrismakkuah

I hope that everyone had a very enjoyable holiday (if you celebrate yesterday's). I had new socks!

Cute picot edge, and coordinating heels and toes. (And excessive pooling!)

I cast on a lot of things while I was away, and will share pictures of my progress tomorrow!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

wrapping up

My finished Shetland Triangle is all that I hoped it would be... graceful, warm, and stunning in a subtle way. The Artfibers Ming was wonderful, and such a treat to use. The silk gives it a wonderful drape, and the merino holds it together, so I'm not too worried about it stretching like made.

Pattern: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn Clark, from Wrap Style.
Yarn: Ming, from Artfibers; 4.5 skeins
Needle: size 7 Addi
Modifications: different yarn, obviously, from the recommended laceweight. It seems that I love knitting lace, but not with the super-skinny yarn that one so often needs to use. Perhaps with more practice on the lace part with heavier yarn, I'll slowly be able to introduce the skinny stuff and succeed. I did more repeats of the pattern (13 to the suggested 8), and stopped because I wasn't sure if I could eek another repeat out of the yarn that I had left. The blocked size is 60" across and 30" deep, so I'm completely fine with how it turned out.

That edging! So lovely.

The peacock feather motif looks great in these colors. It rocked my office holiday party at the UN Delegates Dining Room!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

just in time

It’s done! And just in time for my office holiday party on Friday. (There are a few knitters ‘round the office, so I hope I can bump into them to accept compliments.) It’s still pinned out, but was pretty dry this morning. The very dry air at home certainly sped up the blocking process.

I’ll try to get proper pictures over the weekend, because the just-rising sun and arriving winter storm didn’t offer much in the way of light to show off the shawl. Expect a full wrap-up with the pictures. But I’m so pleased with what I accomplished… in less than a week.

If you could use a laugh, please check out the customer reviews on Amazon… for milk.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

starting the shetland

On Thursday night, I was feeling pretty unsatisfied with my works-in-progress projects. I'm not accountable to anyone with respect to my knitting, so I decided to start the Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style. I brought the pattern with me on our trip to San Francisco in January, and found the perfect yarn at Artfibers. The design is supposed to resemble a fir cone, but it always struck me as looking like the center of a peacock feather. The bluey-purpley-greeney yarn is a perfect match for my vision of the shawl. I've been going like mad on it (who needs sleep?), and love seeing it grow. It's exactly what I needed right now.

Friday, December 07, 2007

first sock: done!

In using up my remaining vacation time, I was happy that I'd be home during daylight for a change. Yay! I could take pictures with real light! But today's been very overcast (just noticed that it's started snowing, actually), and the finished Christmakkuah sock still doesn't want its picture taken.

I've got a couple of train trips to make this weekend, so I should be able to make pretty good progress on the second sock.* Of course, Hubby is heading to the old alma mater for the weekend, so I can also do nothing except sit on the couch and knit. (There are a few obligations that I must attend to, of course, but otherwise I'll be listening to a book on CD and knitting.) I should easily be able to finish these by December 25!

*I started a new project last night, which I really don't need to start, but it's a little present to myself. Pictures of that tomorrow (it's supposed to be sunny).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

4,000 word (photo) essay

Forming actual words into complete-ish sentences is a bit beyond me today. (I do not like leaving for work before the sun has officially come up.* Also, there are very few women (maybe 5%?) on the 6:49 train into the city. Interesting. However, it is fun to write mean emails before 8am to colleagues who haven’t done what they said they’d done. I Am Awesome; You Are Not.)

*I was awake because of a nightmare about huge bugs (with 8” antennae) crawling into the bedroom through the air conditioner. Scary. I didn’t peak under the curtain that’s hiding the AC, because I really didn’t want to know if there were bugs.


Blinding Sock!

A possible replacement sweater for the very bulky yarn! (Berkshire pullover from Weekend Knitting)

And a very happy Hanukkah to y’all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

from the ashes

My hopes were dashed by the crash and burn of the Patons Urban Turtleneck, but I found something else to comfort me in this crazy time of December. I need stockinette stitch! So I pulled out my 2006 birthday present, 14 skeins of lovely Noro Cash Iroha.

The Hourglass Sweater pattern is rife with errors, including a big one about yarn requirements. As in, everyone who’s made the sweater has needed much more yarn than called for. My size requires 10 skeins, and I thought that I’d bought 12. This caused little nagging hints of anxiety, because what if that still wasn’t enough? Should I start it anyway? So imagine my surprise on Saturday morning when I discovered that I was terribly clever and bought 14! Plenty of yarn, and all should be right in the world (of this sweater).

I’m about 10” up one sleeve, and it’s already sucked up one skein of yarn. Repeat with me: 14 skeins will be enough. 14 skeins will be enough.

Friday, November 30, 2007

happy day, it's friday

It’s been an fairly insane week at work (here until 10pm last night, and that just doesn’t happen), and based on the infrequent updating of others’ blogs, it seems that it’s a rather busy time for everyone else, too. Serenity now! Festivus for the rest of us!

I did run over to the Smiley’s Yarn Riot on Wednesday with Stephanie. I was extremely restrained, and bought a pack of stitch markers and another row counter. I did exercise my mad enabling skillz and Stephanie came away with enough cashmere to make Mr. Greenjeans. (Stephanie and Marni won’t want to shop with me anymore; now I’ve convinced both of them that they deserve a sweater’s worth of very luxurious yarn on different occasions! Hee hee.)

My traveling sock for the week is a crazy swirling pool of acid green and electric blue, with big red stripes.* Stephanie didn’t really have words to describe it. I’m ready for some heel action, and found a half skein of Koigu in navy blue to use for the toes and heels. Because if you are trying to accept that you love pooling yarn colors, you’ve got to keep the pooling going without the interruption of a heel.

*No pictures right now; there’s no light when I’m home (of course, the socks seem to have their own bright twinkle), and the camera is temporarily dead. I’ll try to get it going over the weekend.

Monday, November 26, 2007

a dream is over

Years ago, I fell in love with this sweater.

I didn't buy the yarn or pattern immediately, and then had the pleasure of discovering each element separately (finding the pattern on a visit to Patternworks' store in New Hampshire, and the yarn at the Smiley's Yarn Riot at a super price). But I've never cast on for the sweater. I've had a conversation with the other Raveler that's knit the sweater, and talked about modifications (e.g., a nine inch turtleneck is pretty excessive, as is the cabled pattern on the back). But I never started it.

So after I determined that I'm making fantastic progress on my holiday knitting obligations, I thought it was a good time to start swatching something for me, and make myself a lovely sweater that I've been wanting for years. That's when the problems started. The UpCountry yarn is bulky: super-bulky, in fact. The recommended gauge for the pattern is 13 stitches for 4 inches, and when I finally arrived at this gauge, the swatch was about half an inch thick. I hadn't considered exactly how thick this yarn was, and wow: it's big. (I think that Hubby's comment was "It's sturdy!" True, but not helpful.) Sadly, I don't live anywhere that could handle wearing a sweater half an inch thick. I'm not racing in the Iditarod, nor swimming for my life in the Antarctic, nor living the life in Mongolia. I'm pretty much warm all of the time, so unless it's an outdoor jacket, it's not going to work out for me. So now there's 780 yards of yarn that needs a new project. Huge mittens, anyone? Speak up now!

To console myself, I started some Christmukkah socks with this Adirondack Soxie. Red, green, blue and purple: the colors of December.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

big day for finishing

Today's been a very productive day for finishing projects, and reporting on others that were finished a couple of days ago.

Thanksgiving Day found me finishing the second Odessa hat in less than a week. The pattern is great, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a quick holiday gift.

Today I finished the Fetching Mitts, done in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (color #300204). The mitts were fun (I love cables), but I definitely used more than one skein of yarn, which was all the pattern called for. Just take note before you embark on these!

Also finished today was my stealth knitting project, which I can't share yet. If anyone other than my mother would like to see a picture of her Christmas gift, let me know and I'll be happy to share. But Mom can't see until the big day (wow, a month away)!

After reviewing some items I'd made over the year and not worn or used, I've only got one more Must Make Knitting project to do over the next month. I'm pretty excited. To celebrate, I'm going to start the Urban Turtleneck sweater... which won't be a turtleneck, and will be modified pretty heavily to make up for the fact that I don't have the recommended amount of yarn for the garment. But it's supposed to be a quick knit, so I'll know about any shortfalls soon.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

happy turkey!

I know that there's been concern about the absence of the camels on West 51st Street in the mornings. But I'm happy to report that THEY. ARE. BACK!

Camel action shot!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

the good and the bad

The Good: It was snowing this morning! Those of you who know me well know that this is a cause for celebration. In fact, I did a little dance at about 7am this morning.

The Bad: Even though the Radio City Christmas Spectacular has been up and running for two weeks now, I've yet to see the camels out for their morning walk on 51st Street. Everyday I make sure to go by, and no camels. Don't y'all know how much joy THAT brings me? Where are the camels?

The Good: I finished an Odessa hat for a holiday gift! Done in RYC Cashsoft DK in color 521, and on size 4 and 6 needles (the smaller ones for the ribbing on the bottom). I didn't do the beads, but I still think it turned out super cute! And it was really fast to knit. And I discovered that the bathroom is a good place to take pictures when it's really dark out!

The Bad: Odessa only took about a day to do, but I kept getting distracted, and spent quite a bit of time tinking back to fix mistakes. When there's 110 stitches per round, it takes a while to get around for correcting boo-boos.

The Good: There's a thing called Second Sock Syndrome, where you finish a sock and then don't cast on the next one immediately... so you only end up with one sock. To keep me moving along on the gift list, I cast on a second Odessa hat last night, and got through the ribbing already. Will I finish it by Thanksgiving? (Not likely; busy week.)

The Bad: I started making stuff for Thanksgiving dinner, and began the pumpkin lemongrass soup. It's good soup, but there's not really a lemongrass flavor. I'm going to need to punch that up before serving.

The Good: While Van Halen was rather boring, I got a lot of mileage out of the story, repeating it about four times over the weekend (different people, have no fear). And I get to use it again tonight!

The Bad: Last night we finally watched a movie that Netflix sent us on October 10. Yikes. Thank goodness there's a Writers Strike so there won't be more new TV shows.

The Good: The prospect of a four-day weekend is also filling me with joy. I plan on doing a lot of knitting (and watching Netflix). I will certainly finish the stealth knitting project. Please prepare yourself, Hubby!

The Bad: A co-worker brought in home-baked cookies to share. The holiday eating season begins!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

van halen who?

On Tuesday night, I had the great pleasure, nay, opportunity to see Van Halen at Madison Square Garden. It wasn't my idea to attend, nor Hubby's; our recently bar mitzvah-ed nephew is a big fan, and since his parents said "hell no, we're not going" we stepped up and offered to be the escorts for the 13-year-old as his birthday gift.

Now, I can't really say that I have specific musical tastes. My iPod's got a fairly crazy mix of music. But I don't listen to commerical radio (never have, really) and don't have a clue about what and who is popular. So perhaps Van Halen would reawaken something from my musical past, and I'd have a great time?

The answer was No. Despite a number of people at work singing the Van Halen canon at me, I didn't really know any of their songs. Things started out well; I didn't know that "You Really Got Me" was their song, so it was a nice surprise to hear that start out the concert. But frankly, it was kind of boring. Loud, but after a while everything just sounded the same.

The most amusing part of the concert was definetly David Lee Roth ("He's Jewish!" my nephew gleefully reported on the way). He's a year younger than my mother, and needs to put a shirt on. The rock star lifestyle isn't easy on the body. Likewise the second-skin leather pants. Ew. But his jumping around and high kicks were hilarious, as were the circus ringmaster jackets and top hats. And the audience was eating it up! I just clearly wasn't enough of a fan.

Eddie Van Halen's guitar solo was pretty extraordinary, though.* I always enjoy hearing gifted musicians pushing the edge of their instruments. The upshot was that our nephew had a great time, and thinks that this was the best gift he received. My hearing is starting to return (yes, of course I wore earplugs), so it's all good.

*Also shirtless, but wearing linen cargo pants and Chuck Taylors.

Monday, November 12, 2007

piling up the gifts

(First off, apologies to those who read through Bloglines. I have no idea whatsoever why it keeps showing the same posts as new every time I refresh. It may have stopped... for now. Fingers crossed, and I'll try to investigate. Any ideas out there?)

But onto the knitting!

Pattern: Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns basic mitten
Yarn: Diakeito Diamusee Fine, color 113, purchased at Knittingsmith in Cold Spring, NY (spring of 2006, I think?)
Needles: size 1 Addis
Modifications: I think that the second mitten is slightly smaller than the first, which was entirely by accident. But no hands are the exactly the same size, right? So it'll be fine?

I started the mittens for myself, but some gauge issues resulted in mittens that were a little too small. It's completely fine, though: I've got lots of petite little cousins that need Christmas gifts, and these are going in the gift bin.

Pattern: Charade, by Sandra Park
Yarn: Regia Havanna Color, purchase in Germany on vacation (August 2006)
Needles: size 0 Addis (two circulars)
Modifications: None intentional.

I'm a big fan of this pattern, and will certainly make it again (and soon!). I adore Regia sock yarns, because they seem to be the most durable yarn on the planet. But since I have multiple pairs of pink-ish socks in my drawer, these will be going to a deserving aunt for Christmas.

So: two more gifts complete! I think that I might make this gift knitting goal after all! Stealth knitting continues on the side, too, to surprise some readers for the holiday. (Yes, Mom, this means the gift for you.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

in the bag

In the mornings, I tend to dump everything I'll need for the day* into a bag and run frantically out the door. Thus, my knitting isn't usually well-protected from the elements of the my bag's climate. After pulling a needle out of stitches for the umpteenth time, I decided that it was time for a little project bag.

*And often: not everything I'll need for the day.

I'd seen the Schrodinger bags on blogs and at the Spin-Out. They were nice, but I was concerned about two things: the fabric's heft (I don't need any additional weight from heavy fabric on my shoulder!), and the size (could I fit a full skein of Trekking in there?).

Browsing around, I found some very cute options at Zig Zag Stitches. The fabric was light, it was long enough to fit a full skein of yarn, and the price was really friendly. Best of all, it makes me happy!

(That's a little bit of Fetching peeking out from inside. It's a great pattern, and super-quick to make up. Very cool thumb construction too.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

one present done!

I finished one more gift that's destined for the gift pile. Yes, that yarn should look familiar: it's the leftovers from the Tilted Duster. I'm rather happy to be finished with that bag o'yarn. There was a lot of yardage in there.

Pattern: Irish Hiking Scarf by helloyarn Adrian
Yarn: Rowan Magpie Aran, 2.5 skeins or so
Needles: Size 8 bamboo straights

It's a pretty long scarf, but only took a week or so to finish. I started it when some friends were over for dinner on a Friday night; we were just sitting around talking, and my fingers were itching to do something. (They were pretty impressed with how far along I got while we were talking wedding plans!) I think that I am a bit nuts to try and get so many gifts done before Christmas... but I'll give it my all! I'm working on a little fetching item right now for another gifty.

Yes, Mom, you were already on the list of gift recepients.

Monday, November 05, 2007

the good and the bad

It's been a bit of a rollercoaster over at Chez Yarn and Cocktails since my last post. There was a great celebration of life (from Hubby's side of the family), and then a confrontation with the opposite (my side). Nothing's resolved there, but I'm levelling out. And I haven't really knit at all since Thursday.

But! Seeing tons and tons of family, extended and not, over the weekend got me thinking about holiday gifts. How much can I knit before December? Anthropologie's in the act, by creating this window display with great big balls of yarn. It's taunting me! Some presents are already completed (phew!), but there's still a long way to go. I'm trying to not schedule anything over Thanksgiving weekend so I can knit knit knit. Can I finish eight to ten projects in the next six weeks? Am I crazy? Leave your answer in the comments.

Hey! It's post #300!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

kiku and the return of cocktail talk

(Pretty pictures from the New York Botanical Garden's Kiku show. It was lovely, crowded, but lovely. Must go back before November 18.)

Today had two great cocktail articles appearing in my favorite newspapers. The first, written by William Grimes (who also wrote my favorite cocktail book - go figure!) is about Jerry Thomas, the first cocktail mixmaster. I'll have to pick up the book that inspired the article. I learned that Thomas was born in Sackets Harbor, NY (nearish to where I was born), and also the home of Funny Cide's owners, the group that own the racehorse that almost won the Triple Crown a few years ago. (North Country trivia time!)

Next up is a recipe that uses Applejack. I'm always on the lookout for uses of Applejack (Laird's Applejack, because if the family made it for George Washington, it's good enough for me.) Since I always have organic eggs on hand, I'm certainly going to make the Clover Club and Pink Lady soon.

Happy Halloween and autumn!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the finished wave

Pattern: Wave Jacket from Miss Bea's Seaside
Yarn: Elann Den-m-nit, about 7 balls of the darker and 3 of the lighter
Needles: size 6 Addi
Modifications: I couldn't get the row gauge on target, so that caused some changes. Most of my discussions about the jacket took place here, waaaaay back in September.

This was my first experience in installing a zipper in a knit garment. Things were pretty shaky at first, but I have high hopes that it will stay in place. I ordered the zipper from Custom Zips, who matched the yarn sample really well* and sent my order really quickly. I mailed the form on a Tuesday, and had the zipper on Friday. That's impressive.

*If you do order from them, you MUST send a sample for them to match and then cross your fingers. There's no color chart to help you (even on the website), and only a list of color names. Not terribly helpful. But they did a very good job this time, so I will use them again.

I'm so happy with my jacket that I'm dancing!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

one day, one row scarf

Pattern: The Yarn Harlot's One Row Handspun Scarf
Yarn: Morehouse Merino three-ply handpainted, one skein (140 yards)
Needles: size 8s
Modifications: none

It's a very short scarf (32 inches), but I'm completely in love with the colors of autumn that look glorious here. The yarn is so soft that I wish the knitting could have gone on forever.* It's reversable, and took less than 24 hours. I can't recommend this pattern enough. And I'm ready to get out my brown suede jacket to match.

*Good thing I bought four skeins at Rhinebeck last weekend. The fun can last!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

the haul from rhinebeck

We still didn't have sunshine today, but there was enough light to quickly take some pictures... through the rain!

Sock yarn was, of course, highly desirable. The top two skeins are very squishy and lovely. The denim yarn just above here is from Sliver Farms. I got some last year in purple, and liked it so much that I went back for more. The barely varigated colors are a pleasure to see.

Morehouse laceweight, 440 yards. It's lovely. Though I said that I wouldn't buy any laceweight, it's Morehouse, so I made an exception.

And four skeins of stunning hand-dyed Morehouse three-strand merino. They are going to be lovely scarves or mittens. I'm sad that they are closing their store, but very glad for them that the internet business is doing so well.

This wool is part of a mitten kit that came with roving to use as thrums. They're going to be very, very warm.

And I can't wait until next year!