Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I got a job at the Fiber Gallery! Yea! I’ll only be working a very small amount, but I’m very excited about it, and only partly for the discount. I’m starting on Sunday for inventory, which wil be good to get even more familiar with what’s in the store before people start asking me questions about it.

I headed out to Churchmouse today to examine the clearance bins. They had put them away for the holiday merchandise, and as I was hoping they are overflowing now. There was a ton of Jo Sharp Desert Garden for half price and I bought a sweater’s worth in sage. It’s so pretty. There were lots of other things, including much Regia and enough Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere for a good sized garment, but I resisted the temptation.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone out there is having a good holiday, or at least day off of work if you don’t celebrate. We had a nice Christmas Eve with my family with the traditional wine and cheese picnic in front of the fire followed by present opening. I got a swift and ball winder! Yea! My mom liked the yarn, although seemed a little freaked out by the pattern. My dad is looking forward to getting his scarf back. My brother seems to like his hat and has been wearing it quite a bit:

In fact, my cousin liked it so much that he made my grandma call to get the pattern to make him one (speaking of which, I will post it as soon as I figure out how to make it a separate link). We spent most of the day with them and the rest of my mom’s family. The food was great, and my brothers, husband, cousin and I had fun hiding out in the TV room playing board games like we do every year.

My older younger brother got a funny gift from my parents. All he wanted was DVDs of various shows and movies, and my mom was worried he was becoming too much of a useless couch potato. Yesterday he opened a big box to find DVDs, a ball of yarn, and a pair of knitting needles. My mom said that if he’s going to spend all of that time on the couch he’s going to at least be productive and had to learn to knit. She had me teach him the continental method, since she wished she could do it but is 40 years too used to throwing. It was really interesting seeing how differently people learn, having taught Amy some of the same new techniques so recently.

Friday, December 24, 2004

I have been knitting constantly, but not everything is going to get done. I got to the fingers on the second glove, and then noticed that something was amiss. Remember how I fixed my gauge on the mittens? Well, it stayed fixed;

A somewhat more dramatic change than in the mittens, eh? At this point I realized I was going to need to start over on that one. I checked the clock; 23 hours until gift giving. I looked down at my knitting; I had about four more inches of black yarn. Damn. I went to every yarn store in the South Metro area. Only one carried Jamieson Shetland. And only in a hideous mustard yellow, pea green variegated colorway. 19 hours to go. I gave up. To replace the gloves, I got my mom this:

In case you can’t see, it’s the Fiber Trends Shoal Water Scarf pattern and Schaefer Anne yarn, a 60% merino wool superwash, 25% mohair, 15% nylon blend. I would have loved to get the yarn suggested in the pattern (Lorna’s Laces Heaven), but just couldn’t afford it. I hope there is enough mohair in this to get at least a little of the effect of the original. 17 hours to go (does this happen to everyone in yarn stores?). Following my mother’s suggestion that my dad wouldn’t notice if I knit his gift right in front of him, I worked on the DNA scarf until 3am and again until just now when I wrapped it up. I had to fold it just right so that you couldn’t see that the needles are still attached.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Christmas with the Moenches (my dad’s family) is always very fun, and never on Christmas. This year it was the weekend before and in Minneapolis. Mark and I spent most of time playing with my youngest cousins (sisters ages 9&10). Mark used them for weight lifting and quite a bit of tickling, and I knit with them. Yes, these adorable children are turning out the Fun Fur scarf Christmas gifts like little machines. They take after their mom in that way; anything they do they do en masse and a million miles an hour. She is currently selling Eros scarves (and some other types) and felted pot holders in the gift shop of the hospital where she is a nurse. As someone who would rather be nibbled to death by ants than work with Eros a second time, I am very impressed with how many of these babies she cranks out. Actually, the rule at this meeting seemed to be if you were female, you had knitting needles in hand. It was very fun.

The one crisis of the day was that the Estonian mittens I made for Chris would not dry. I had blocked them the night before in a desperate play to make them both fit, but even though the air is pretty dry in a MN winter, it is also cold, and my parents turn the heat way down at night. I had to transfer them from theironing board to which they had been pinned to pieces of Styrofoam and smuggle them into the party. Even after hours drying there, they were hamp. We had to move them to the center of the celebration so they could sit by the fire. I had a very jumpy hour or so, as I guarded the blanket-coveed gift; flinching whenever anyone near me moved for fear they would suddenly leap forward, tear off their human mask revealing the Grinch, rip back the blanket and shout, “Here’s a gift! It’s not a surprise anymore! Christmas is ruined! Ha ha ha!” Or accidentally bump the blanket or try to put it away or something. Fortunately, they dried just barely in time.

For some reason I had been really nervous about giving these mittens. I didn’t worry about my other knit gifts, but in this case I really felt like I was copping out not buying soething she wanted. I got every knitter’s dream reaction, though. When Chris pulled the mittens out of the bag she had your general “Oh. Mittens. All right, these are pretty, thanks.” Smile on her face. Then my mom shouted out that I had made them, and her eyes got wide, and you could tell her whole perception changed and she loved them. She started gushing and passing them around and everyone oohed and aahed and asked questions and I got to tell everyone all about Estonian knitting tradition. Present giving stalled. It was great. In the rush to get them done in time, though, I forgot to ever take pictures of the mittens and didn't have my camera. Here is a poor picture from my phone of my aunt with her gift:

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I love, love, loved New York. This wasn’t really a surprise to me since I love cities and it’s THE city. I walked miles and miles all around the city, rode the subway, went to all the big museums, saw all the big sites, ate pizza in Little Italy, had a bagel in the Bronx, hailed a cab, got out of the cab because it would be faster to walk, saw a Broadway show, and walked the Brooklyn Bridge. You’ve all seen pictures of the Statue of Liberty and such, but here are some less common snippets from my photo album:

Some subway stations are fancier than others. I loved the art around this one.

A little Christmas cheer at the Museum of Natural History.

This was very cool. The big gray thing is the Hyden Sphere, a model of a meteor that hit Earth. It is used as a comparison with the things around it to get a feeling of relative sizes. For example, you can see the size of Saturn in the background if the Hyden Sphere is the Sun. The items being compared run from galaxies to quarks. Awesome.

Hans and I are very close now. We do all of our traveling together.

I did, however make a tiny mistake coming home. When I looked at the time of my flight, I saw the time I left my connection in Minneapolis, not when I left New York. I was a tad late to the airport. Actually, the killer is that it really was only a tad. I decided to go "early" and just leave the hotel when Becca did for her supposedly earlier flight. Fortunately, the woman with Northwest was wonderful and straightened it all out. She couldn't get me to Seattle tonight, but she got me to Minneapolis and I'm leaving first thing in the morning. My mom was a little surprised when I called to ask to spend the night, and it feels ridiculous since I'm going to Minneapolis in three days, but it all worked out.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Paul’s hat took me the entire flight to NYC. To keep this in context, please remember I live in Seattle. A simple 3x1 ribbed hat! I kept looking at the beautiful mitten and thinking “I can do that! But I can’t handle this!” First I made it way too big. Then I made it the right size around, but decreased too fast and made it too small. Then I worked my way through several ways of decreasing, and hated them all. I finally settled on one I like well enough; the world’s most common and simple spiral hat decrease pattern. On the up side, I am now in New York, which is very exciting. I’m not meeting my friend until tomorrow, so I’m just going to hit the hay in our bizarre “hotel.” It’s really more of a hostel, I guess, but we get our own rooms. The weird part is that the walls don’t go all the way to the ceiling. The tops of the rooms are just covered with garden lattice. The noise shouldn’t bother me too much since there are quite hours and I’m a heavy sleeper, and I came expecting it, but I wasn’t expecting how much light comes in from the hallway. Ah well, for $30 a night to stay in the East Village, I can handle it.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I have been a terrible along-er, and I apologize. Here’s an update. Rogue is… balls of yarn in an unopened box.

Doesn’t it just make you want to cry?

The DNA scarf is slightly better:

I’ve been avoiding it. I hate working on it. It’s turning out a bit lumpier than I would like, but that’s not really the problem. I’m finding the pattern trying. It’s boring to do, and yet you can’t zone out for a second or you’re screwed. The one saving grace is that I’m knitting it with the yarn of the gods. It’s sooooo wonderful to touch. It’s going to be my knitting project for the plane to and from New York this weekend. I think that should be enough to get it done or close to.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I have one completed mitten. It doesn’t fit. After the cuff I went up a needle size, but my gague didn’t. It may even have gotten smaller. This happened on The Gloves, too, and they got a bit rippled. It finally hit me that my floats must be too tight. At this point I was just above the thumb, and it fits great from there. The lower palm is tight on anyone larger than me (which I think Chris is). Several Purlygirls tried it on, and thought that blocking should fix it. I like that idea. I have discovered that I’m not much for things that come in twos; threes would be worse. For now I wove in the ends and am just going to start on the next one, staying loose the whole time.

I also cast on for my brother’s hat today using my brand new double start method. It is from Cascade Eco+ (dyed Ecological Wool). I will be making two hats and a scarf from this skein. I love this yarn.

Monday, December 06, 2004

That whole “no mistakes” thing… that was a lie. The chart has two errors, one more frustrating than the other. Upon closer inspection, I realize that Yarn Harlot said she had found no errors in Folk Solks, not Folk Knitting in Estonia. The nupp stitch section (which is super fun otherwise) will not make flowers, it will make Xs. I realized this as soon as I looked at it, but thought I could live with Xs. They’re unevenly spaced Xs, though, and that is unacceptable. Plus, I really like the flowers. Figuring out what the pattern should be wasn’t too hard since the stitch definition was easy to see in the photo. I displayed stunning incompetence figuring out how many stitches I needed, however, so fixing the section took me qquite a while. The other mistake is a miscolored square in the main pattern chart. Fortunately, it is toward the top so you have a really good feel for the pattern already and it is very simple to notice and fix.

I’m loving the Double Start Cast On. When you get going, this cast on can really fly. It is very elastic and therefore good for mittens and socks. I think the edge is prettier than the long tail cast on. Changing how the yarn sits on the thumb makes it a bit slow, though, so I’ve figured out a smoother, more continuous way to do it;

Move 1:

a) The first step is as for the long tail cast on; the strand over the thumb is the long tail, the strand over the index finger leads to the skein, b) From below, insert the needle through the loop around the thumb, c) Scoop the needle over and then under the strand over the index finger (the yarn will wrap the needle clockwise), and pull it through the thumb loop from the top. Drop the yarn off your thumb and tighten.

Move 2:

d) With thumb back in place, tilt the left hand forward, e) Scoop the yarn up from beneath and and pull up, f) Wrapping the yarn around the needle clockwise again, grab it from the index finger and pull it right to left through the loop around your thumb.

Alternate moves one and two until you have as many as you need. The slipknot at the beginning counts as move 1. The picture below is of poor quality, but I hope you can get an idea what the cast on looks like.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Everything started out well; I had several false starts, but that’s how I work. The braids turned out to be easy, and I was etting pretty quick since I had started over so many times. I was nearing the nupp stitch part (and 3 am) when I was suddenly overcome by absolute loathing for my color scheme. I knew deep in my heart that dark blue with a white background would be elegant, stunning, perfect; the light blue background was trite and blasé. I couldn’t knit another stitch; I needed new yarn. Shockingly, there doesn’t seem to be a single yarn store in Seattle open at that hour. I went to bed.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I have become obsessed with the Baltics. I blame this on unresolved vacation issues. In our original plan, we were going to go to the Baltic States rather than Scandanavia. When we changed our minds we were still going to duck over to Estonia. If you read the vacation days, you know this never happened. As a result, I am left with a deep longing to connect to that portion of the world at least by knitting. Eent though I have millions of Christmas projects to knit, my minds is wandering to Estonian socks and Latvian mittens. My mom gave me the excuse I was looking for when the only suggestion she had about the aunt whose name I have for Christmas was that “she loves anything anyone makes for her” Lame cop-out, but the opening I needed to go buy Nancy Bush’s “Folk knitting in Estonia.”

This is one of the coolest books ever. Everytime I look through it I find something else I want to knit. I find the shapes of the socks especially intriguing. I can’t wait to make the socks on the cover, even in the exact same colors. For now I have started on Maimu’s Mittens for Chris. I know it seems crazy to agree to intrinsic color work on such short notice, especially considering the trouble I‘ve had with The Gloves. I’m justifying it like this: 1)these are mittens, not gloves, and so are easier, 2) the pattern is much simpler, 3) I have Yarn Harlot’s word that there are no errors in the book, which has been the biggest problem with The Gloves.

I chose these mittens because they have the most new, specifically Estonian techniques. It is so exciting how many new cast ons, decreases, etc are in this book! I have already learned the Double Start Cast On, the braid, and the nupp stitch. I love them all. The braids take absolutely forever, but are not that hard. I think it might look nice to switch to larger needles for the braid row, but for now I do as I am told (pick your jaws up off the floor, please). I’m even using the recommended yarn (though in colors Mark picked). It is a really good deal! $9 for 350 yards! It is even a bit less scratchy and sticky than Jaimison 2 Ply. I would never have found it on my own, though, because Weaving Works has hidden it way back in the weaving section. I don’t go back there for fear of catching the spinning bug. I can’t afford the time.

I'm so disgusted by this, I don't know what to do.

I felt the need to blog about it, but I don't even know what to say. All I can do is supress the gag reflex and try really hard to believe this is a joke. I'm not offended by the belief in creationism, but the rest of the crap in here, and their support for it, is so terrible. The logic alone! I think the following example best sums it up:

From "Women are Designed for the Home" 2nd place winner middle school "science" project:

"Social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay."

Oh God.

There will be knitting content today, but it will have to come later. I'll give you a teaser: it pertains to a new obsession with the baltics. For now, I'm on my way to the yarn shop.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I have been a complete waste of space today waiting for my meeting, and thus have stumbled across something odd. I watched some soap opera (General Hospital maybe?), and afterward a show came on where some lady recapped the entire episode in five minutes, showing a few clips, and then did the same for all the other soaps of the day (I assume. I actually turned off the TV in the middle of the second one, but that seemed to be the plan.) What is this? If you were unavailable during the General Hospital timeblock, is it really likely that you are available five minutes later? I know soaps can be very addictive; is this the Nicotine patch of soaps? The first step of weaning yourself off them is just to hear what happened and see the key scene?

After two days of weaving in ends (remember how I cut every strand in the thumb? Well, I couldn't waste the yarn...), it is finally done! And I don't want to hear a word about gloves coming in pairs.

Thanks to Jessica's wonderful connections, we saw Closer in it's preview showing last night. It was a crazy movie-going experience. We stood in line for an hour, had everything searched, were patted down, and metal detected. Security concerns? Checking for outside food? No. They were looking for recording devices and couldn't care less about anything else. They did look at us a bit oddly for having a purse full of tupperware with roasted root vegetables in them, but we didn't have a camera so we were good to go. As for the movie itself; someone sitting near us said "Closer: The feel good movie of the year" and everyone laughed. It was pretty intense. I'm still mulling it over. It did give me horrible nightmares from overidentifying, so that's a point against it.