Wednesday, December 31, 2008

happy new year!

All the best to you in the new year!

(The romanesco looks festive, right?)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

secret gift knitting revealed

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on a few projects that I couldn't advertise, as Mom would have discovered them before she unwrapped them! The following are the Blueberry Waffle socks, in Sliver Moon Farm superwash. The official name of the yarn is denim, but I found it to be a good match for my idea of yummy waffles. (I forgot to take a picture before mailing them off, so this is a WIP shot.)

The other handknit item she received was partially a gift from her. While on an Alaskan cruise this summer, Mom gave me a skein of yarn from a hand-dyer in Sitka. I wanted to use it with another yarn, to ensure that I'd get a big and warm scarf. Paired here with Louet Riverstone, it was cushy and should be warm enough for even an Alaskan winter. (Not that Mom will be in Alaska in the winter.)

Hope you had a very merry holiday (whichever you celebrate)!

Monday, December 22, 2008

snow day

When I woke this morning, I checked the Transit Tracker website to see what the bus situation was at my stop. The answer? There was a bus headed my way, and it was only 11.6 miles from the stop! Oh, happy day: I'm not getting on a bus today. The rails aren't really working either, so I'm homebound today. There is now enough snow that even I'm impressed.

We attempted to drive to a little Hanukkah party yesterday, and the snow was not cooperating with the car. We got to meet some of our neighbors as they helped us push the car back into the driveway, so that was nice. And then we walked, with wine and brisket and potatoes for latkes and menorahs in our backpacks, through the deserted streets. There may have been snowball fight on the way back home, too, when the packs were lighter.

My new hat was blocked while on my head. A commenter asked about the pattern (Koolhaas, by Jared Flood): it was published in the Interweave Knits Holiday 2007 magazine, and I believe that you can buy it directly from the IK website as an individual pattern, too.

Stay warm out there!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

grape head

The yarn's official name is "Violetas", which is much lovelier than grape, but I do feel a bit like there's a bowl full of grape jelly on my head while wearing my Koolhaas hat. I think it might be time for a trip to Seattle so I can model it in front of the library that inspired the design.

Thanks to the Blizzard of 2008*, I had lots of knitting time over the past two days. This morning was just lovely: Jonathan Schwartz's 39th Annual Christmas Show over the computer (yay for free XM Radio trial periods!), knitting with Malabrigo, the noble fir tree in the corner, soy egg nog in a cocktail glass, the Times... a pretty good way to while away the shortest day of the year.

*4 inches of snow.

Can I confess that I did a happy dance upon completion?

Cushy and warm... just the thing to light up the longest night of the year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

it's a wonderful snow storm

It’s pretty much chaos in the streets here in Portland. There’s snow! There’s ice! There’s a commitment to keep the rivers clean, so there’s no salt! But the panic resulted in a very empty train ride for me today, which was nice. Schools on the west side of town have been closed all week; poor east-side kids had to report in Tuesday. Panic caused the west-side schools to close again today, and since then, the sun has been shining brightly. All of my meetings and events this week were cancelled (that first week of January is not going to be relaxing). But before the winter weather hit town, I cut down my Christmas tree!

This is a fascinating article about "It's a Wonderful Life" that I really enjoyed. Check it out.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

winter wonderland

I finished half a scarf this past week, and took a really dreadful photo.

Luckily, the scarf is a lot nicer than this picture. I really enjoyed the little bit of lace, followed by inches and inches of plain knitting. Just when it was getting to be a bit of a slog, and I couldn't believe that all this knitting was only getting me 8" of fabric, it was time to move into high gear and start zipping along. I'll probably get the other half started tonight, to be ready for the bus ride tomorrow morning.

It's been snowing all day (well, mostly just blowing now), and we've enjoyed being home-bound. We did walk to the local coffee shop this morning, and I just walked to the store to get some spinach for dinner... so we weren't exactly trapped. But the city seems quite paralyzed by this inch of accumulation. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

The good thing about being at home for the day is the fact that I got all my present wrapping done, and nearly everything is boxed and ready for shipping. Yes, I'm much later than I anticipated, but I'm fairly certain that the boxes will arrive on time.

Soon: pictures of me as a lumberjack, cutting down my Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

my list

There are a bunch of projects I want to begin, now that my holiday knitting is done! I have all the yarn, and now just want to start. All of these are going to be great on the commute...

The Koolhaas hat, in purple Malabrigo.

The Snowball hat, in a lovely burgundy Lamb's Pride.

The scarf on the right, in an alpaca yarn that's pretty close to the color shown. (I might want to do the scarf on the left, too.)

And a Monkey Cowl - which isn't quite like this one - but made in a wildly varigated yarn that never worked as socks.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

thankful (a little late)

Yes, I have many things for which I am thankful. They are that I (not necessarily in order of importance):

1) finally found good Chinese and NY-style pizza in Portland*
2) am one present away from finished with holiday knitting
3) am signed up for Jared's class on designing Aran sweaters in January
4) have a job - here - that I like, because it's slim pickings out there
5) went to my first yoga class in nearly two years, and almost managed to keep up
6) have a farmer's market still operating, in December! (OK, so there aren't nearly as many vendors around as there were, but some are still there with winter greens, apples, and our happy pork producers

*Yummy Yummy on 82nd across from Fubonn, and Apizza Scholls on Hawthorne for anyone still searching.

I hope that you all had a lovely holiday weekend! And feel thankful for all that you have.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

two days, two good things

Yes, I've been quite absent lately, and for that, I apologize. Getting back into the swing of working outside the home has been a challenge. Everything there is still good, and I'm headed off on my first business trip with them tomorrow afternoon.

Onto the good things: knitting isn't the only thing that's been suffering lately; I've been having the durndest time getting engrossed in a book. I hadn't finished a book in weeks, and even Sarah Vowell's new book couldn't hold my attention (I know, right? If not Sarah, then who?). So imagine my extreme joy when I grabbed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society from my stack of library books, started reading at the bus stop, and then didn't want to get off the bus because I was hooked. I devoured it quickly, and can't recommend it highly enough. It's a post-WWII novel, but I won't say another word because everyone should read it right away.

And today, I found the waterproof boots I'd been searching for. And cute brown shoes as well.

I hope to start reading blogs again soon (I'm so very behind...) and also doing that knitting thing. Yay for a six hour (round trip) car ride and a long Thanksgiving weekend ahead!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

diamonds and pearls

Phew. Superwash yarn does, in fact, block out.

The Diamond and Pearls Shawl from the Knitter's Book of Yarn is completed, and blocked successfully. Another Christmas present is finished!

My k2tog vs. ssk problem isn't quite as glaring in the blocked shawl (k2togs: above left, ssks: above right), but I will need to try a substitute on the next lace project that I start. Maybe I'm just doing them wrong? Hm...

Detail-oriented viewers will note that I did not use the elaborate, loopy edging for the cast off. I tried it - a number of times - but never liked the final result. My alternative was to use a #13 needle for the cast off, and just cruise straight across. I'm entirely fine with the final product, and hope that grandma will like it too!

The Dream in Color Classy is a lovely yarn. The yardage is great for the price, and it's handpainted! No irritating pooling, and it did seem reminiscent of a deep seaflower.

(Also, the job is going well. People are lovely, etc., and I think that they'll keep me.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

cozy, but warm

Last weekend, I finished my Herringbone Neck Warmer, and it kept me warm and cozy for the two days that I needed it. Temperatures have recently been in the 60s, making an extra layer of wool not really, really necessary.

I tried out some vintage buttons, but the the colors weren't really floating my boat. I'm sure that I'll find a great use for them at some point, and as you can see, they didn't really break the bank.

Ultimately, some shell buttons from Joann's were the best solution. I really enjoyed this project, and the yarn (Morehouse Merino) was sublime. Do you see all those pools of pink and green? They don't even bug me. They are just delicious. The weather will be taking a cooler turn soon, and I expect to get a lot of good use out of this soon. All I can say is: yay for busting lovely yarn out of the stash for a quick project!

Friday, October 31, 2008

the change we need

A week ago marked our six-month anniversary in Portland. We arrived on April 23rd at around 11pm, and it was October 23rd. Things had been a little difficult lately; I didn't get a job that I wanted, another person backed out of buying our apartment in New York, our bank nearly failed (OK, this wasn't really so bad as it was taken over by another bank and we didn't actually have any real problems, and not nearly enough money in said bank to not have it insured by the Feds, but with $1 in your wallet, you don't want to hear that your bank is going under.)

Happy halloween, by the way.

So. Just about eight hours away from our six-month anniversary in Portland, the phone rang. It was another job offer, one that I was also happy to accept. A job in my field, which is considerably smaller in Portland than it is in New York. But I can't really get over the ironic timing: it did take less than six months to find a job here, but yikes, could it have been any tighter?

I start on Monday. My first time in an office in six months. My first commute in six months. Yes, I'm a touch nervous. But the trick-or-treaters don't seem to circulate in my neighborhood, so I'll have lots of candy to bring to my new co-workers.

PS: I already voted. Did you?

Friday, October 24, 2008

neck cozy

My chilly neck is calling out for a cozy little scarf. I really liked the Herringbone Neckwarmer (pattern available here*), and cast on Wednesday night with a skein of Morehouse Merino three-strand that I purchased at Rhinebeck in 2007. The Herringbone pattern is the same one used in the My So-Called Scarf (pattern available here**). A couple of years ago, I tried to make one and found it nearly impossible. Even this time, when writing out the pattern into my traveling notebook, I couldn’t get my head around what the directions were instructing. But I decided to plunge in and just start. And lo, it made sense once I started knitting.

It's coming along well, and should be keeping me warm very soon. Now I need to shop for buttons...

*The comments at the end of the pattern were very helpful in figuring it all out.

**And it’s in Dutch, too!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

waiting pattern

Life is in a bit of a waiting pattern right now. Waiting for the election,

(this week's cover of the Willamette Week, the Village Voice of Portland), waiting for reports of all the fun that was had at Rhinebeck (the first one I've missed in years; last night Hubby commented that Oregon Flock and Fiber can't really compare to New York Sheep and Wool), and waiting to dive into the confusing cast off of my grandmother's shawl.

(My neat and tidy knit-2-togethers on the right, and sloppy slip-slip-knits on the left. I really need to experiment and find an alternative that is better for my knitting style.) Hopefully it will all block out and look lacy and lovely...

I did get to see Ann and Kay on Monday night at their reading/book signing, and took no pictures. It was quite entertaining to have Kay look over, furrow her brow, and say, "What are you doing here?" Many days, I ask myself the same thing.

Friday, October 10, 2008


After that flurry of finishing projects, I had to take a little break. Planning Christmas presents has been on the forefront of my knitting thinking, and I purchased one skein of yarn to make a little shawl for my grandmother.

I like the colors of this, and it's my first Dream in Color yarn. I made the corrections in the pattern (which will be the Diamonds and Pearls Shawl from the Knitter's Book of Yarn), and just need to wind the skein.

However, I'm really tempted to make myself a neckwarmer, because it's been cold cold cold here in Portland. I'm typing with gloves on, in fact. I have tons of scarves, of course, but the ends tend to get in the way while I'm doing dishes, etc. I have the yarn... and the chilly neck... and plenty of time before Christmas...

Friday, October 03, 2008

giftie pile

I finished up a couple more single skeins... just a few days past September. First up: socks for a grandmother, out of yarn purchased while on vacation last year. They are rather silky, which I find surprising for superwash merino.

I made another Unoriginal Hat out of Misti Alpaca Bulky, and loved the zippy nature of a 36 row pattern. It was over before it had hardly begun...

I have half a Jaywalker sock to finish, and then will have another completed gift for the boxes that will head east in a few months. I wonder how early I need to ship my gifts to make it across the country?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

catching up

Quite a few babies have arrived this summer, and I've been neglecting them. But no longer! I'm on a baby-knitting roll.

I started the Placket Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts in early August, and upon discovering some very strange dye lot issues (wherein one skein - the bottom of the sweater - was considerably darker than the other two), I stuffed the whole thing in the back of the cupboard.

But then I finished the Icarus Shawl, and was so excited to be finishing up old projects that I grabbed this and decided that with the return of autumn, the babies needed some cozy garments. (Yarn = Mirasol Hacho in tutti fruitti.)

I am very happy with the little purple beads I found for the placket. If I made the sweater again (which I probably will do), I'll make some buttonholes, because it's very hard on the psyche to shove the beads through my lovely seed stitch.

Soon, it'll be on it's way to Brooklyn, and I'll be casting on for another overdue baby gift.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

double skein september

Last week, I needed some mindless knitting that wasn't on size 0 needles. A few months ago, I made most of a Bainbridge Scarf (everything but the ties), and then ran out of steam. It sat in the cupboard, lumpy and not terribly happy. So, I yanked it all out and wound it up into a ball, and started a simple seed stitch scarf. I had another skein upstairs, and I had found my mindless, not-small knitting!

You know how they say you always need to wash and dry yarn that's been ripped from another project before starting over? The first half of the scarf, made with the frogged yarn, was kind of bumpy (see scarf half on left). I thought it might be my tension, but never the fact that I didn't follow the knitting rules about washing the yarn. So when I started the second half with the fresh skein and it was smooth sailing (see scarf half on right), I knew that I might be in for a world of hurt.

Happily, the fates smiled upon me, and once completed and soaked, the scarf turned out just fine. Smooth, mossy alpaca goodness. This is destined for the holiday gift pile, and should be lovely to wear come January.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

flying high

At very, very long last: the Icarus Shawl is finished. (Below, in big blob stage.)

The pattern was published in Interweave Knits in the summer 2006 issue. I purchased the yarn for it at Rhinebeck that fall, and found A Touch of Twist Zephyr - a silk and merino blend that was $5 for a 300 yard skein. (What a bargain, right? Look for them this year on my behalf.) I started the shawl in the summer of 2007, after failing at the Mystery Stole 3 knitalong. I did very little of it, before determining that laceweight yarn and train commuting weren't a great match. Off it went into a plastic bag for nearly a full year...

I picked up the project again for our road trip to Napa at the end of June, and it came with me to New York in July. It got pushed aside for a little while again in August, but I told myself that I wouldn't cast on another lace project (and there are so many interesting ones waiting!) until this was finished.

While still working on the plain portion, I discovered that many knitters were running short on yarn. I had 900 yards, exactly what was called for in the pattern, but it had been two years. I think that only one other person on Ravelry had the black yarn, so a decision was needed. I didn't do the fifth repeat of the stockinette portion, and started the lace pattern early. Looking at what I've got left, it was a good choice. Also, the blocked shawl is amazingly large. Draped over my shoulders, the ends fall to mid-thigh. It's about 80 inches across the top.

It's light, and quite lovely. Hubby asked if I was going to wear it to Oregon Flock and Fiber this weekend, and I think that I might. I never wear the lace that I knit, except for the Shetland Triangle to my office holiday party last year. But this might be the weekend for a debut...

It's light, and quite lovely. Hubby asked if I was going to wear it to Oregon Flock and Fiber this weekend, and I think that I might. I never wear the lace that I knit, except for the Shetland Triangle to my office holiday party last year. But this might be the weekend for a debut...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

pity party

This is the weekend when Hubby hops on a plane and goes back to the old alma mater for a series of meetings and gadding about with old friends and professors. In previous years, I've taken advantage of the weekend alone to catch up on TV series that I'd missed (e.g., House, Alias), eat microwaved food from Trader Joe's (trying to fool myself that it's healthy), and knit to my heart's content.

Unfortunately, those plans were slightly derailed by some bad news on Friday afternoon (I and all loved ones are fine, it's just some really annoying/depressing info). So instead of watching good TV series, I watched Lipstick Jungle on hulu and threw myself a pity party. With an entire bag of hickory bbq potato chips from Trader Joe's. (Note to self: while eating all those chips seems like the right thing to do at a pity party, the hangover is really not worth it.)

Come Saturday morning, I forced myself out of bed, and went to Twisted to see the Louet Fall Fashion Show, which was quite a bit of fun. There were 25 people there, or so, and I was a little surprised that I was one of only two people knitting through the event. It was a show of knitted garments in front of knitters, so I assumed that more people would have pulled out their needles...

After more work on the Icarus Shawl (sooooo close to done!), I got a message that my copy of Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Domesticity was ready to be picked up. Thinking that it would be good for me to get out of the house a bit more, off I went.

I passed a new wine bar - EVOE, I think, on Hawthorne - on my way back to the car, and sat down to look at the stunning pictures and browse the book with a glass of hard cider from Basque country, and a few deviled eggs (with chips of ham). I will certainly be back there as autumn approaches and we look for places to be out of the house but also out of the rain. I'm still digesting the book, and am sure to discuss more of it soon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

bamboo who?

I went to The Knit and Crochet Show last weekend, which is sponsored by a big trade association (TKGA). Since I won't be going to Rhinebeck this year, I was hoping for something great - to ease the pain of missing the Duchess County Fairgrounds in mid-October. It's so beautiful up there that weekend. Sigh.

The marketplace wasn't quite as exciting as I'd hoped. There were booths for most of the local yarn stores, and new-to-me West Coast independent vendors. Of course, my only yarn purchase was from the New York-based Habu textiles - super thin bamboo and over a 1,000 yards of it! I never made it to the store while I lived there, and thought that I need to correct that (in)action in some way.

I did also buy the pattern for Chrissy Gardiner's Path of Flowers Stole (Ravelry link), and got to meet her. She's Portland-based, so I managed to do some buy-local shopping. I'm hoping that next weekend's Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival will help to lessen my Rhinebeck heartache...

Monday, September 15, 2008

single skein september

It's Single Skein September! That time of the year when you decide that you really are going to get a jump on holiday knitting, and actually make something with all those singleton skeins of yarn.
I pulled out One Skein (handily titled), and a skein of Knit Picks Main Line, and cast on for a little bib, which didn't turn out quite as little as I expected. The colorway is Red Velvet Cake, which is exceptionally appropriate for bib yarn, I think.

It was a fun little pattern (with some errata, fyi), and my first experience in using the wrapping method for short rows. I was successful most of the time, but the careful eye will find the mistakes. But hey, it's a bib: anything that is purposefully designed to get dirty is allowed a few clumsy wrap pick-ups.

What was less fun was weaving in the 14 ends (carefully saved above) from this little number. That's a lot of weaving for not very much bib. They went quickly, though, and I found a great match for some yarn that needed a purpose. I am waaaaay behind on making baby gifts, so many this will get me going...

ps: hello, post #400!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

trip to the big city

Over the weekend, we took a trip to Seattle to see my beloved New York Yankees beat the Mariners and make up some games in the wild card race. That was the plan, at least. They managed to win one game.

Seattle is quite the sports town, and our stop for lunch on Saturday had this massive "art" on the wall. Please note the "No Yankees" symbol in the lower left corner. It made me laugh.

But I did finish some socks over the weekend (well, yesterday - it was a long weekend). These are my first socks from Socks That Rock, and since Blue Moon Fiber Arts is a Portland company, it's about time!

Sad to say, I'm not sure that I completely love the yarn. I don't really like the pooling (no news there), and it wasn't as soft as I expected. But they do feel lovely and cushy on my feet, so maybe I'll give it another try. You spend much more time wearing socks than knitting them, so it may be a fair trade.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

the bakery

I got the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for my birthday, and over the weekend I whipped up the basic recipe. This is the dough after the two hour rise and overnight in the fridge.

Next, I pulled a hunk off and shaped a little loaf, let it rise a bit, and slashed the top to give it the fancy artisan look. (I imagine that there's something more to it than just looks, but I'm not that good a bread baker yet.)

And then: yum. Fresh bread.

It really was as easy as advertised. The first loaf was cut by someone a little too early, so it was a bit dense, but easily the best bread that I've ever made. I can't recommend the book more highly.

Lunch was fantastic. I can't wait to explore the rest of the recipes. I might become a bread baker yet!