Thursday, November 29, 2007

On Sweaters

I've progressed to the point on Enid where the time comes to divide for the front and back and start on sleeves. It is at this point that I have an epiphany: This is so not fun. This is essentially the same point I stalled on the Blaze sweater but luckily instead of way too many cables, I have the prospect of some awesome stranded color knitting to encourage me through some dull sleeve knitting. I'll definitely be doing both sleeves at the same time on two circs rather than even attempting to do them on dpns. Never again!

What is the appeal of sweaters with all these pieces? Why didn't I try to do this top down and seamless? (oh yeah, because I still think I'm a n00b and have no desire to muck up this project due to my own inadequacies rather than something I can blame on things that are not my fault like pattern errors or yarn inadequacies)

I'm also stalled a bit in the holiday gift department. The clutch for Cousin Jess has been knit and felted and is now in need of some trim and fabric lining (I'm thinking Hula girls). I washed another hank of the yarn for Aunt Judy's stole last night so once that's done drying I can resume with the knitting. But the rest of the gifts are at a standstill. So I feel I have no choice but to revert to that favorite organizational tool of mine: the numbered list. This is however complicated by the fact that secret holiday gift knitting is not the kind of thing that benefits from being publicized in blog format.

1. Clutch for Jess
2. Stole for Aunt Judy
3. Giants Pillow for Dad
4. ____ for JN
5. ____ for TF
6. ____ for MC
7. ____ for LW
8. Socks for Ryan
9. Socks for Dad
10. Balaclava for Chris
11. ___ for TA
12. ___ for KH

heh. see?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm Thankful for Curvy Pants, Clue, and McMansions

After almost a week spent at home in New Jersey I feel (and look) at least ten pounds heavier. It's sad when my gap "curvy" pants get a bit tight. (Curvy is just a kinder, gentler way of saying "Hey there, pear shape!")

This was therefore probably not the best time to cancel my gym membership, but I'm sick of nysc charging way too much when I hardly go. Now that a Planet Fitness has opened in my neighborhood I plan on heading over there instead. It'll make gym visits easier for the weekends when I don't want to leave the apartment.

But Thanksgiving is quite possibly the best holiday ever. This year it happened to be unbelievably pretty in Northern NJ. I feel like typically the leaves are all gone by the end of November so I was glad they stuck around to make things especially picturesque.

One of the other things I like about Thanksgiving is that my-mother's-best-friend-from-college's-family comes out (and yes, I really do say that in one breath, though usually I cut my losses and refer to them as aunt/uncle and cousins) and craziness ensues. Each family has three kids and, with the exception of the middle children, all of us were born within a month of the corresponding member of the other family (And the middle children are only a year apart, so really, it's all the same). We see them more than our blood relatives (which drives my grandmother nuts) and I think the fact that my counterpart Cousin Danny and I are both single has facilitated the continuing of our holiday traditions, because we're not being called away to visit other families and we're not bringing new people into the mix who would just stare gaping openmouthed at our families' collective behavior. God help anyone who marries into either family because they had better be prepared to continue participating in the following holiday rituals:

Dinner has developed a tradition whereby bad table manners dock points from a theoretical points total. At this point, I think we all end the day with negative points, but generally cousin Anthony is the worst. I get nervous about even letting him use the good china and stemware.

After dinner, once we've recovered from post-turkey drowsiness, the "kids" play a game or five of Clue, which inevitably results in the youngest sibs getting frustrated that they cannot figure out who the culprits are and repeatedly guessing or accusing people that the rest of us have long since eliminated from consideration. I won two of the three games we played this year, so suffice it to say, I had fun.

Clue is usually followed up by less wholesome entertainment, a rowsing game of Circle of Death, among the of-age cousins. The first words out of Aunt Judy's mouth the next morning are inevitably "You guys drank an awful lot last night." Which, for the record, is never true.

This year we added a new tradition to the mix: gawking at the ridiculous house across the street which is still vacant after six months.

Cousin Jess, whose tastes run to what we in the architecture industry like to call "Classic Long Island Mafioso Style," loves the house. Everyone else agrees that it is too big and too out of character with the neighborhood. My dad is the only one who has ever been inside since he went to the open house to gawk with the rest of the neighborhood. So we decided to take a closer look. And it is really bad.

Jess loves it! Aunt Judy can't understand why there are French doors leading to a non-existant terrace with panoramic views of... our house.

Personally I think the landscaping is lovely. Look, they even put in a pool!

Nothing says "Class" like a bathtub in the back yard.

But the worst of it is, on Saturday after my-mother's-friend-from-college's-family left, we noticed that there was spraypaint on the front of the house. Someone had apparently tagged it with dollar signs. So we have a social minded graffiti artist in the neighborhood. I just hope none of the nosy neighbors point the fingers at us after our minor acts of trespass.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Heart NJ

I'm commuting into work from NJ (the motherland) this week and despite the snow showers this morning, I'm so pumped.

I love you, New Jersey.

You are great. Has anyone ever told you that?

Because it's true.

This means that every night I have the prospect of not having to cook/reheat my own dinner (Dad does it for me! Three cheers for Dad!) And then I get to wake up and look out my childhood bedroom window and see this:

That is literally the view I get when I wake up.
Can't be beat unless it's January and crappy out.

In addition to this bliss, I've decided that I would enjoy being BFF with Mindy Kaling. You may know her as Kelly on The Office. But she's a damn funny person with great taste and stuff. Which is why I spent all day reading her blog instead of doing work that annoys me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I May Have Cheated

and cast on for the selfish sweater.

I know the poll wasn't over yet but it was clear that Enid was in the lead and I haven't worked on a colorwork project in ages (hello! look at the blog title!) that I really couldn't resist.

So Enid is being made using black sport weight baby alpaca from A Touch of Twist, a vendor at Rhinebeck. I'm currently about 4 inches in on the body of the sweater and the baby alpaca is definitely the kind of yarn I just want to rub my face in.

So last night at my Yarntopia SnB I made some purchases (I'll admit that's another reason I was excited for this project). I was hoping the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light would have more colors, but the reds are just a bit too bright for what I want to do with this sweater. I still managed to pick out three colors for the bottom and top tiers of color and then browsed a bit this morning to find something in another yarn that will go well with those original three colors. My decision is made easier because the main color is black, but it's still quite a challenge. I finally decided to use Blue Sky Alpacas Melange.

So at left is what I've come up with. From the top it's UAL 4283 (Lavender Mix), 4287 (Denim Mix), and 4294 (Turquoise Mix). In the middle, Melange 809 (Toasted Almond) 800 (Cornflower) and 811 (Bubblegum). And then at the bottom the top colors are mixed up a bit with 4294 on top, 4283 in the middle and 4287 at the bottom. I'm liking the digital version and just hope that the colors are true enough that it'll really reflect what I'm getting.

I think it's a really good sign that, for a project that is made up of a lot of stockinette, I'm so excited to get home and knit on it. This will definitely encourage me to buy really wonderful yarn for plain projects. The prospect of steeking makes me feel a little sick to my stomach, but I'm game.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Ballad of Lady E

I was on a quest.

I climbed the highest mountain.

Braved the darkest forest.

Battled the white knight.

Crossed the drawbridge over the moat.

Reached the castle.

And climbed the crenellated fortifications of the tallest tower.

Where I rescued the fair Lady Eleanor.

Actually I took a walk in Ft. Tryon park on a beautiful autumn day when the leaves were just starting to turn, but whatever. Anyways... it feels so wonderful to finish a big project. Especially when it's something as pretty as Lady Eleanor.

Lady Eleanor by Kathleen Power Johnson
From Scarf Style
Yarn: Patons Soy Wool Stripes (SWS)
Colorway: Natural Earth
Used: 11 skeins with a minimum left over after fringe

Started August 2007 (Sometime between August 16th and August 23rd).
Finished October 26th 2007

Finished Dimensions (blocked): 84 x 29 in.

I finished the knitting during Game 1 of the World Series (Boston Sux!). And proceeded to steam block during Game 2. This was my first time steam blocking as opposed to wet blocking. I have to admit, it was kind of mind boggling just how big this project turned out. Friday night, I learned to crochet (ha!) and added the fringe (as if this stole needs to be any longer!) so that I sat watching the last two games swaddled on the couch. It was the only thing that could raise my spirits in the face of such horrors.

I didn't block it as much as I could have and let it shrink back a bit because it was really getting out of hand in terms of length. Right now I can drape it over my shoulders and the fringe drags on the floor on both sides. So yeah, it's long (and I'm short).

I learned to knit backwards for this project and it made my work so much easier, especially with all that subway knitting. And I have to say that so far this has been the most commented on project I've knit on the subway. I've had countless people admire it and everyone seems to think it's some sort of impossibly complicated project when entrelac is really unbelievably easy once you get the hang of it. I could knit it forever. :)

I found many other projects knit with the Patons SWS on Ravelry and really loved the way they turned out. The colors change subtly enough to make the squares really blend nicely but at the same time they stand out really well. And the jewel tones of the Natural Earth colorway are really beautiful. I think I may like it more than most of the Noro Silk Garden versions. But I'll be tempted to maybe do a scarf with the Noro in the future.

All in all, two very enthusiastic thumbs up for this knit.

(And yeah, I have no idea what that big plywood cut out of a guy on a horse is doing in the middle of Ft. Tryon. Are they putting in a new equestrian statue or something? Bizarre.)

Glory Days

Two of my favorite guys just totally made my Monday.

Photoshoot pics coming shortly.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Word of Warning...

My replacement camera has arrived. I may be so overcome with joy at having a camera again that my next few posts will consist of nothing but pictures. Watch out.

I'm finding it very hard to resist casting on for one of the contender sweaters below, so help make my decision easier by voting. --->>>

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Next Selfish Knitting?

Yes, it's approaching holiday time.

Yes, I have lots of gifts yet to knit.

Yes, I know I typically only knit for myself.

But wouldn't it be nice to have something started that I can work on while I'm home for the holidays that's just for me? Yeah, that's what I thought.

So in the spirit of giving (to myself) I'm setting up a poll over yonder >>>

We're only a year away from the presidential election, so let's flex our voting muscles!
Allow me to introduce you to the contestants:

1. Enid Yoked Pullover: She's a no-nonsense girl with those miles of stockinette stitch, but that colorwork yoke gives just a hint of her soft romantic side. She says "My life's ambition is to alphabetize everything in the Library of Congress... and own my own organic bakery."

2. Buttony Cardigan: If this cardigan was a high schooler, she would totally be the rebel artsy chick with blue streaks in her hair. She says "Buttons down the center? Hah! That's so bourgeois!" (the pic on that link is not so great, but my favorite version, in the yarn I'll use is here.)

3. EZ's Open Collar Pullover: Plain Jane? I say thee nay! This is an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern after all and once she's all dolled up in some Briar Rose Celebration wool/bamboo blend you'll think: Brains and beauty? She's quite a contender. She says "Cogito ergo sum. Now let's go paint our nails."

You will notice that the 3 lovely contestants have one thing in common: they're all sweaters. I think that's due to the fact that it's frakkin cold in my office and even though I'm currently wearing a turtleneck, a wrap, and fingerless mitts, I'm still freezing. Thoughts of sweaters make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, so a sweater I must have.

Some more info to help you make your decisions: Enid would be done in black alpaca with some yet to be decided colors possibly in Berroco ultra alpaca light. Buttony would be done in light blue Araucania Nature Wool. And the Open Collar Pullover would be in a red/pink Briar Rose Celebration (wool/bamboo). All yarns I picked up at Rhinebeck.

Voting will be going on for 1 week. At which point I won't be able to resist casting on for something... anything. Make your vote count!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Kodak Z710, you were so good to me

So I'm currently without a camera. It's a very sad state of affairs because it is solely due to my carelessness. I overpacked my purse on Halloween and while digging for my wallet to pay the very nice cab driver who drove me home in all my blue-wigged glory, the camera was taken out of the bag and never put back in. But I managed to remember the $20 butterfly wings. So there's that. At least I didn't leave my keys in the cab. Because that's definitely the kind of thing I would do.

I've ordered a new camera from Kodak because I simply love(d) my camera and it's not sold in stores anymore. The latest generation is black instead of the snazzy silver one I had. I just hope that whoever has it now treats it with the love and respect it deserves (and enjoys the pictures of me and Kyra dressed as butterflies).

It's amazing to me how the minute I am without a camera I suddenly see tons of things I want to photograph: beautiful tree bark, an awesome sunset, hysterical mis-printed store awnings.

So I obviously did not have an opportunity to photograph Lady E this weekend. Instead, I made some progress on the Christmas gifts front, spun some very inconsistent yarn on my spindle (practice, practice, practice), and wrote my conference paper (which was due Thursday, but who's counting?). I also watched Transformers. That was awesome.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

And one more...

article from the Times just because I can never get enough Stephen Colbert. I even added Comedy Central's channel to my TV, despite the fact I do not have cable. So now I watch scrambled/snowy/blurry TV, just so I can listen to his voice. Is it any wonder he gets 13% of the vote?

LOL "Well, suddenly an option is looming on the horizon. And I don’t mean Al Gore (though he’s a world-class loomer)."

Stephen, you slay me more than Maureen and David combined!

My So-Called Life

This article in the Times brings me back. I remember so well the anguish I felt when ABC cancelled my favorite show. Poor Angela Chase, they just didn't understand you. Or me. I'm adding the DVD to my Amazon wishlist. Maybe I'll pick it up along with Veronica Mars Season 3 this weekend.

Why do these TV networks insist on cancelling awesome shows with young female leads that have depth?