Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007: Year in Review (Techniques)

I posted this meme in August, not long after I started this blog, and I thought it would be a great way to review the things that I learned this year.

Bold for stuff you’ve done, with an asterisk for things done for the first time in 2007
italics for stuff you plan to do in 2008, and
normal for stuff you’re not planning on doing.

Afghan/Blanket (baby)
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Baby items (finishing anyway)
Button holes*
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)

Charity knitting
Continental knitting*
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers*
Designing knitted garments
Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Drop stitch patterns
Dying with plant colors
Dying yarn
Fair Isle knitting
Freeform knitting
Garter stitch

Graffiti knitting
Hair accessories
Holiday related knitting*
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)
Kitchener BO*
Knitting a gift*
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting and purling backwards*
Knitting art
Knitting for a living
Knitting for pets
Knitting for preemies
Knitting in public*
Knitting items for a wedding
Knitting on a loom
Knitting smocking
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars*
Knitting to make money
Knitting with alpaca*
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Knitting with beads
Knitting with camel yarn
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with cotton
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Knitting with DPNs
Knitting with linen
Knitting with metal wire
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn*
Knitting with silk
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn*

Knitting with soy yarn*
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Knitting with wool

Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Lace patterns*
Long Tail CO*

Machine knitting
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Moebius band knitting
Norwegian knitting
Olympic knitting (it is an olympic year after all)
Participating in a KAL*
Publishing a knitting book
Short rows*
Slip stitch patterns

Socks: toe-up*
Socks: top-down*
Steeks (getting there!)
Stockinette stitch
Stuffed toys

Teaching a child to knit
Teaching a male how to knit
Textured knitting
Thrummed knitting
Toy/doll clothing
Tubular CO*
Twisted stitch patterns
Two end knitting
Writing a pattern

Holy cow that's a lot. 17 new things to do this year but a far cry from the 29 new techniques/items/whathaveyou that I did this year. How momentous!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Open letter

Dear Gmail,

I love how when I open mail I get ads in the banner that reflect the content of the letter. Usually you're awesome and totally spot on. Like when I email Jenn from DC and talk about yarn and you remind me that I haven't checked out the Yarn Pirate shop in awhile. That is ever so helpful. Or when Lauren and I were trying to get rid of the bedbug infested roommate and you helpfully suggested exterminators. Thanks for that! But then today I noticed that you are suggesting I visit a site that has "awesome bearded dragons." Apparently these dragons also have brilliant color morphs and a health guarantee. I'm not entirely sure what prompted you to suggest the bearded dragons nor am I certain what I would do with one of these dragons (having read Harry Potter and all, it seems like they might be somewhat of a nuisance even with that health guarantee)*, but thanks for the heads up!

*Yes, I am aware that bearded dragons are actually lizards. This makes no difference to me because why the heck would I own any kind of reptile or amphibian?

Edited to add: Best one yet! I just opened a new years email from Jenn in NYC and now you're providing info on how to "Avoid the Dangerous Mistakes Women Make & Drive Away Mr. Right" Gmail, don't assume. It makes an ass of you.

2007: Year in Review

2007 will go down in history as the year I got serious and got knitting.

Not merely by starting this blog, but by truly embracing a hobby and making it something much more. It's the year of my first (real) sweater (still unfinished, naturally), my first wearable garment, my first Yarn Harlot experience, my first fiber festival, and my first inkling that I may have a wee bit of a problem in the yarn purchasing department.

But it's been a wonderful year. I've made so many wonderful things and met so many wonderful people. I've been introduced to the absolute most brilliant website ever in the history of the world. And I have the prospect of never again spending a single solitary minute bored while commuting.

So let's re-examine some of the FOs of this year, shall we?

1. Kate's Cabled Hat, 2. Lady Eleanor, 3. Smidges! ahem "Scholar Collars", 4. Voyager Lace, 5. Tilted Duster, 6. Potter Puppet Pals, 7. Fetching Mitt, 8. Giants Pillow, 9. Fake Isle Hat, 10. Unisex Gloves, 11. Widdershins Kneesocks, 12. Tilted Duster, 13. The Clutch You'll Never Give Up, 14. Kyra's Flowered Scarf, 15. Lady Eleanor, 16. Tara's Scholar Collar

It started out very simply with some birthday gifts for Kate and Kyra that were not much to write home about.

Then it progressed to something a bit more complicated: Blaze (the first real sweater that is, naturally, unfinished) I can't quite decide what I want to do about this. I love the yarn, but am not terribly pleased with the pattern. Something to think about in 2008, I guess.

Then there was Lorna and her laces. I finished these gloves from One Skein at the Yarn Harlot event at FIT in May. That was awesome on so many levels.

I also made a scarf and a beret using the rest of the Icehouse skeins I bought, but I recently frogged them and am considering making a clapotis with the, now fairly sizeable, remnants.

I made socks!

I was one of the first to finish a Tilted Duster, and I think that totally inspired me heading into the fall. I love that sweater/coat/skirt/dress/jacket/thing so much. And it was reassuring to know that Blaze had not cursed me where sweaters are concerned.

I mastered entrelac! And it was big.

Then there was lots of Christmas knitting. But I think I handled the challenge really well (sore neck and shoulders aside).

My first post of the new year will be all about setting goals for myself. Not resolutions, per se, but something akin without the added pressure or feelings of dejection and frustration and inadequacy.

This made me laugh out loud at work

I think my coworkers believe I have some sort of disability that causes me to giggle at inappropriate times.

TV's funniest lines of 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Recap

Wow. That was fun. Let's get to the goods, shall we?

Pattern: Voyager Lace Stole from
Yarn: School Products Supergeelong Coned Yarn
Needle: umm... 7?
Yardage: Goodness knows, but I've still got plenty left.

This project, a Christmas gift for my Aunt Judy, was my first real experiment with lace and my first experiment with coned yarns.

In my naivete, I thought it might be fun to just knit right off the cone. And then I read this post by the Yarn Harlot way back before Rhinebeck and all that changed. The yarn is a coned wool yarn from School Products and this is how it looked before I washed it:

Pretty much like straw

And on the left is the yarn after:

Washed vs. Unwashed

Pretty amazing, really. Plus, it was a heck of a lot more fun to knit when it was this soft. And once the stole was washed and blocked it was even softer. Very nice. I still have a bunch left over and used some of it to make a balaclava for my bro.

This towel rack was the best model ever.

One yarn, two Christmas gifts: can't beat that. (Although Dad kept asking why I knit everything in black. Ugh!)

There were these little guys:

I learned to crochet for real. How about that?

There was also a clutch for Cousin Jess that I had intended to line with fabric. I found some bonding web in the sewing kit and thought I'd use that. I grabbed the iron and discovered it wouldn't turn on. I tried several outlets, no luck. Dad tells me "Jiggle the wire." I do this and a flame shoots out of the cord and nearly singes my hand.

Singe marks are never a good sign.

It is quite possibly the oldest iron in the history of the world, a Sunbeam Jewel series, (with a fabric covered cord!) so I don't know why I was surprised. I'm pretty sure I've seen this iron in house museums where they replicate the way a room would've looked in a given time period. Pity it had to happen on Christmas Eve after all the gifts had been purchased and wrapped.

The gifting in general turned out very nice, but I still have one item that is in severe need of help. It's a felted Giants pillow I made for Dad.

I tried stranding at first, but that got way too messy and complicated so I switched to intarsia which was a vast improvement. Only problem was, I continued stranding the white and without the aid of a swatch (yes, my own damn fault) I was completely unaware of how much the fabric would shrink on the horizontal relative to the vertical (or whatever) so there's a fair bit of pulling across the center which not even I can rationalize as a "design feature." The pillow further suffered the indignity of having an insert that was too small (I opted for a 12x12 pillow insert, should've gone for 12x16, but again that whole vertical vs. horizontal shrinkage differential took me by surprise) and a lack of adequate buttons. I could not find a SINGLE button in Michaels this week and I'm extremely irritated that I had to raid my mom's old sewing basket for buttons - but for some reason I actually found a set of 4 that match! Oh yeah, and I also completely forgot to do the i-cord border before I felted the damn thing. EZ didn't call it the idiot cord for nothing.

As for me, thanks to the wonder that is my Amazon wishlist and the not-so-subtle hints I dropped to Dad and my brothers, I wound up with some things I completely love this year. Only one item had to be returned and that was because I got two of them! Thankfully they have accepted that, yes, I actually knit and, no, it's not funny. I got Inspired Fair Isle Knits by Fiona Ellis although Jenn from DC thinks I should've requested a spinning wheel ;) heh. I also got some books about art theft that I've been eyeing which led to some interesting questions and (2 copies) of the My So-Called Life DVD (Dad says he didn't think anyone watched that show. I asked him if he completely forgot my hypersensitive, moody teenage phase and thinks I've always been this well-adjusted?).

There has been knitting on Enid, yes. But I seem to have strained my neck and shoulders which makes knitting slightly painful right now. I'm very unhappy about that :(

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Oh there's no place like home for the holidays...

Greetings from beautiful snow-covered New Jersey!

I love this time of year for so many reasons. It's partly the decorations and the bustle of it all. It's partly the gifting and getting. It's partly bundling up in warm woolens and walking in the snow (and preferably not slipping and falling on my ass on the ice). It's partly Vince Guaraldi and a Charlie Brown Christmas. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed (Merry Christmas, Movie House!!!). But mostly it's the holiday baking:

The goodies include several recipes new and old from the 12 Days of Cookies Food Network newsletter and some old favorites: Martha Stewart's Kitchen Sink Cookies (my version made with cranberries and raisins but no walnuts), Super Gooey Chocolate Drop Cookies, Ginger Spice Cookies (chewy, yum), Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti, and Jam Thumbprints by Ina Garten. Yum.

I'm on vacation until the 27th. This means lots of holiday knitting while bundled up on the couch with a mug of hot cocoa.

Here's the agenda for my time:
1. Finish Chris' balaclava Update: Check!
2. Finish and full Dad's pillow cover Update: Check!
3. Finish JN's present Update: Check!
4. Finish Aunt Judy's Stole Update: One more row of binding off!
5. Sew buttons etc. on sundry items
6. Socks if I have time
7. Enid!

I'm getting so close. This weekend I wrapped up Lauren's Ponytail Hat (it's a knit cap with a hole in the back for her ponytail). She's been talking about getting something like this for when she goes running. I used the leftover Malabrigo from my Fetching Mitts and it is so yummy. I hope she likes it :). I've also sorely neglected photographing my FOs. I've already given away three of the Scholar Collar gifts and of the three, I photographed zero of them. Bad Jen!

Sunday night was the Sit'n'Knit New York Meetup group Holiday Party at Session 73. I brought the pale blue Scholar collar with wood buttons from M&J Trimming for the gift exchange. When my name was pulled I walked up to receive my gift and was carrying mine. When Hope (the woman who pulled my name) saw what I was carrying she started cracking up. Turns out she had made me a Pidge-knockoff as well! So I got to give the group a little explanation of the Pidge and how ridiculous it is to charge $400 for a scarf. I'm all for fair wages and fair valuation of handmade goods, but really now???? I estimate that the cost of one of the Scholar Collar based on materials and labor (ok... minimum wage) with a slight markup for profit should be approximately $100. A far cry from what they're charging, so those knitters are doing pretty well for themselves! I wonder if they're hiring. I can show them my Ravelry portfolio in lieu of a resume! :)

Tuesday night was our weekly sit n knit at Yarntopia, with some added festive cheer in the form of hot buttered rum, hot chocolate and Bailey's :) Huzzah! I even got a picture of me wearing the massiveness that is Lady Eleanor.

Also this weekend was our big Christmas in Inwood fiesta. I may have imbibed a bit too much... but it was all in the spirit of the holiday. Our annual theme for this party has been universally hailed as brilliant: Guests come with "nips" (little bottles of alcohol), upon arriving the bottles are tied with festive ribbon and hung as ornaments from the tree. Here's our tree pre-nips:

And here it is post-nips:

Very festive, no?

Theoretically in a few weeks we should have a "Drink the Tree party" when we use up all the little bottles. So it's like 2 parties in one!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I've managed to remember my camera today which allows me not only to upload the countless work pics I took last week on my site visits, but to finally give my Secret Pal some love.

Gustav Stickley's House at Craftsman Farms
Really pretty in the snow right? Yeah not so pretty, when there's no heat.

I got my reveal package last week and it was truly fantastic. And my spoiler is Heathir! I feel like she completely outdid herself with each successive package and it blew me away. It's probably for the best that the next SP swap has been put on hold for awhile, because I don't see how anyone can live up to my first SP experience. But enough talk, get to the goods!

See what I mean? Holy cow!

Included there you see a project bag and circular needle case both made by Heathir and both currently being put to good use by yours truly. I've been using the project bag for the many scholar scarves I've been churning out this holiday season. What a relief to have my yarn and project safely separated from all the junk in my ginormous purse.

The circular needle case especially is awesome. (After the inital SP survey, I realized I should probably find somewhere to keep my needles more accessible and orderly, but this just meant I stuck them in a Yankees Souvenir cup on my desk, so not exactly organized ;) This is much better!) You can also see that the interior lining matches the color of my duvet color. So I am obviously a big fan of Heathir's color choice :)

Other stuff in this package: A pair of socks with little chicks on them (in washing machine at time of picture, because yeah, I procrastinated doing laundry so long that a clean pair of socks was a very welcome present), a sock blocker key chain (which will replace the broken carabiner that keeps losing my office keys. Sweet!) , a postcard with tasty tex-mex recipes (roommate Lauren loved that) and a Texas cookie cutter (Heathir's originally from the Lonestar State), a notebook (currently being used to strategize my holiday baking - cookie cutter will come in handy there), yummy chocolates from Vermont (I forgot to write down the exact name of the chocolatier... will update later with that very pertinent info), some more sugar and cream cotton (yay!), a magnet with a lovely quote from Pope JP, some Soak wash, popsicle printed tissues (how did you know I was getting a cold??), and a pack of J-shaped post-its. Wow.

Soon-to-be-not-so-blogless-Jenn-from-DC also wished me to extend her gratitude for introducing us to the Susan Bates End Weaver gadget. Thanks for being the best SP!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Vote for Inwood!

Over at Curbed there's something interesting going on:
The Curbed Cup, our annual award to the New York City neighborhood of the year, for the past three years has been determined by reader vote. This year, we're upping the ante with a 16-neighborhood elimination tournament spanning the month of December. The first round concludes today with two more faceoffs, the winners of which will meet in round two, which begins tomorrow.

No one cares about Williamsburg anyway! It's so yesterday's news.

So much new stuff to discuss

and I've left my camera at home with all the fabulous pictures.

So instead you get an awesome yarn pr0n shot of the delicious bit of silk lace that was waiting on my desk chair this morning:

It's my first Sundara Yarn from the Seasons Yarn Club. 1000 yards of silk laceweight in "Copper over Bamboo." I opted for the Autumn colors and I was just telling Soon-to-Be-Not-So-Blogless-Jenn-from-DC that what I really wanted was a beautiful deep/bright red... and what do I find when I open the box? Bingo! Sundara, you are fantastic. I think a lovely silk wrap is in my future :)

Good grief, I cannot stop petting this! So yummy.

Christmas knitting is progressing nicely. I'm churning stuff out like nobody's business and I plan on hitting M&J Trimming tomorrow for finishing touches. It helped that I was home sick on Thursday and continued to recuperate over the weekend by leaving the couch only when absolutely necessary (like when I made no pudge brownies, or shepherd's pie w/ leftover meatloaf. yum. I swear, I'm going to the gym today.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Strikewatch: Colorworks Edition

So with the writers' strike ongoing and some of my favorite shows having ended or ending this week, I'm a bit horrified at the prospect of what I will be seeing on TV in the coming weeks and months (American Gladiators much? Or that creeptastic Moment of Truth show??)

Making matters worse, I have friends who enjoy The Hills. Mother. Of. God. Save me now. (And thank goodness I don't have cable)

The only way I want to be watching The Hills is if it's in a format like this:

Thank you Judd Apatow. Thank you.