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!