Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Loss of a Hero

I am so saddened by the news that John Updike died today. He is one of my favorite American writers - his Rabbit series is what inspired me to start writing my own novel.

John...thanks for the words!


Monday, January 26, 2009

The Case of the Square Shoulder Cape (SSC for short)

Ok - seriously - before I sew in the ends again, please help me with determining if the "after" is better than the "before"...I think this is one of those situations where I'm "too close" the project at hand...isn't that always the way?

Before... (several shots from the various tries)

Version 1
tahki tweed cable cape 2

december 2008 001

Version 2 (after surgery #1)
december 2008 014

december 2008 016



To end on a high note...Ramona the Smiley (say cheese!)

So much for finishing the UFOs first!

When I last wrote I truly had every intention of finishing the green sweater before I started anything else. Why didn't you warn me I couldn't stick to it? seriously

Here are some photos of what I've been up to...

Geode - finished last week


geode sweater 9

Jasper - Hubbins Hat - it turned out awesome!


Noro Cardigan #3 - started yesterday so I don't have any actual project photos yet...but here's the yarn!



Berroco Metallic Sox - I wound this into two balls...because it was begging me to (and I couldn't take the torment any longer - ha ha)


And the moment you've all been waiting for...

Tangled Yoke - here's a shot of the sleeves - I made it through the wilderness...some how I made it through...


Friday, January 23, 2009

** Pro. Cras. Tin. A. Tion. ** (and a surprise give away)

(singing to the tune of Anticipation by Carly Simon)...Procrastination, pro-cras-tin-a-a-tion, is making me late, is keeping me wai, ai, ai, ai, ai-ting

So I've been working on my Tangled Yoke sweater for eons...or so it seems. The pattern sat in my queue for a while. I purchased the kelly green yarn in September or October of 2008 and cast-on October 28th (according to my Ravelry notes). And I love the fact that it's knit in the round - cause seamless is really the way to go!

But the weekend after casting-on I went to Stefanie Japel's workshop...and HAD to work on my design and sweater. And then I HAD to finish the Tahki Cape. And then I got sidetracked and HAD to knit a Santa pillow, a couple hats, a sweater for Nana, and a Geode sweater for me.

But now all that's left at the top of my Ravelry projects page is the Tangled Yoke - stuck at 40% complete. Poor tangled yoke.

In trying to pinpoint my procrastination with this sweater I realized it's not that pattern is bad, or that I don't like the yarn. It's the rows and rows of garter ribbing - it's like you never really get into second gear and progress is painstakingly slow.

But this week, after the Geode sweater was finished, I made a concerted effort NOT to wind any more yarn...and not to look at my queue for what's next...and not to gush over the beautiful box of yarn I had just received from Kaleidoscope.

No, my friends, this kelly green sweater is not going away that easily! I picked up the sleeves (being done 2 at a time) and am busily knitting away and half way through the 8" of garter ribbing - hooray! And I know that once the arms are joined to the body/yoke it will be smooth sailing (at least until I get tangled in the cables - ha ha).

Ah, tangled yoke...why couldn't the knit fairies just come at night and finish you for me so I didn't feel so guilty :o)

And now for a little Friday give away! Let me know a project that you were in love with...and why, despite your best intentions, it sat in your UFO's so long! I will randomly select a winner next week and send you a prize! Hooray, we love prizes!

Happy Friday y'all!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Yorkers, Being Square, and other musings

New York

New Yorkers can be fickle. New Yorkers can be wonky. New Yorkers are...well...New Yorkers.

Wednesday morning - E train at 34th Street station heading uptown - passengers get on; waiting for doors to close; all of a sudden a coffee cup comes flying into the car and hits the floor by a woman's feet; apparently the cup is empty; people look for culprit; might possibly be a homeless man routing through the garbage can on the platform; doors close; train leaves station; passengers go back to mindless subway staring

Wednesday afternoon - E train heading downtown - jolly passenger with luggage gets on at 7th Ave and asks if we make a stop at Penn Station; not one, but several passengers tell him yes and each throws in their comments: "3 more stations", "i'm going there too", "amtrak, LIRR, NJT?"

Thursday morning - V train comes through 34th Street on the E/C line heading uptown; passengers are hesitant to get on...will it make V stops or E stops; confusion solved; elderly Indian woman gets on..."Does this train go to 53rd and Lex?"...unlike day before, people look at her like she's actually speaking Indian and has lost her head; I say "Yes maam, we stop there", "Oh good," she says "thank you".

Sometimes you get coffee thrown at you for no reason. Sometimes people will help. Sometimes no one will. Theres no ryhme or reason. It's just NYC for ya.

Being Square

In previous posts I blogged about the Tahki Cape and the square "shoulders". Some of you have even asked...what's become of the cape with the crazy saddles? Well, I'll tell you...it's come back to me for more surgery. Yes, my friends, the Cape loves Dr. Choo Choo just *that* much :o) The shoulder saddle is once again open and being re-knit. I swear to you...for the last time! Photos to come

Geode and Jasper

Has anyone had the chance to knit with Berroco's Geode or Jasper yarn yet? Well I tell you what - they are both fabulous! I will be finishing my Geode sweater tonight - I've been fiddling with the turtleneck sizing (super obnoxious huge is what I'm going for!) so pix will be posted soon.

And Jasper, ah, Jasper. Hubbins (I picked that up from one of you I think) keeps losing the hat I made for him a few years back so I thought I'd make a second one for him. When I was at Kaleidoscope I felt the Jasper yarn and fell in love. I whipped up a hat on Saturday and just need to finish the edge ribbing - it is absolutely fantabulous - seriously! Run to your LYS and just prove me wrong! :o)


So I was a little nervous about posting my hat and scarf patterns on Ravelry last Saturday. What if no one liked them? What if no one wanted to make them? Well, when the hearts started accumulating and the project numbers went up by one and two I guess I jumped out of my skin. It's really an honor...a thrill...to see folks knit something that you created. I feel blessed - thanks for your support!

Ramona...the Potty Trained

Lastly I thought it worthy to mention that our daycare provider handed hubbins the remaining pull-up diapers from Ramona's cubby yesterday afternoon with the announcement: We won't need these anymore. My little bug is growing up TOO fast...I'm so proud of her!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Historic day

When someone asks my political party I usually pause before answering "I am a liberal conservative". That discussion is for another day.

I was going to blog about the weekend and knitting.

But today is a day in history...and I am in awe at the historical significance of the events which are unfolding.

As such, I am proud to be an American today and every day. May we each find our own individual way to cross party lines and celebrate the monumental greatness that is upon us.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

(*singing*) Guess who's publishing...???

Yep, you heard it here first...I am officially publishing some patterns on Ravelry...for free!

I am now listed as a designer on Ravelry and have posted the patterns for my Falling Leaves Chunky Hat and Chunky Scarf.

And just to prove that they are "quick knits"...I made a hat last night in just a couple hours and I've started a second scarf which will probably take a few more...maybe a two-day project if I estimate correctly.

Here are photos of the new versions...and links to the Ravelry patterns if you're interested!

Chunky Hat

Falling Leaves Hat 1

Chunky Scarf


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Just the Facts, Jack (or pictures as the case may be)

Here are photos from Jan. 14th - before joining the sleeves

geode sweater 6

Sleeve detail...
geode sweater 4

Two sleeves on two circs...
geode sweater 3

January 15th Updates...

** Quick note...I've been reading ANYTHING and EVERYTHING about working Yokes, in the round, bottom-up and I THINK I've figured out what to do next...there's just that little voice of doubt...you know how these things go :o)

So here are some pics from this morning - I think I've knit 5 rounds in st st...

geode sweater 7

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Long (and LONGER) of it

I love my Geode yarn. I love the colorway...Rainbow Agate. I love them both like it's nobody's business. Yes, I'm a yarn dork with this yarn!

A few months back, when I first saw this yarn and the pattern booklet, I fell in love with the cover sweater. Well, not with the sweater...but with the color changes in the yarn. I knew I HAD to make something with it. Last October, when I was preparing to go to Stefanie Japel's workshop in DC, I bought a couple balls of yarns I loved...so I could play with them but not be completely commited if they didn't "work out". One ball of Geode was part of my purchase. But I didn't use it back then. I didn't even play with it. I just gently squeezed it every now and then, falling deeper and deeper in love.

Eventually I purchased 13 additional balls and the Geode & Jasper booklet. The patterns gave me some great ideas but none of them were exactly right for what I wanted to do. So I got my sketch pad out, read up on pattern elements in my Sweater Design book (one of the best Christmas presents...ever!) and CO some stitches a few days before New Years Eve. Granted, I hadn't finished Therapi for Nana yet, but I couldn't stop myself from knitting with Geode once and for all! So that I didn't get completely consumed by this new project while we were away (Vermont) I only brought 4 balls with me...and quickly knit through them! I quietly went back to Therapi (love the design...but, again, not so much in the Lion Brand yarn...but you know that story already) on the ride home to New Jersey. I kept my promise to finish Therapi before working on anything else - afterall, it was a gift.

And as soon as Therapi was finished...wha cha...back to Geode. The body took 6 balls and each of the arms has taken approx 2 balls each. I tried the body on last night (for the first time) and decided I wanted to make it a bit longer. I also tried the sleeves on - again they need to be longer. That's the story of my knitting - longer, longer, longer.

I finished the sleeves (again) this morning. I will probably knit another inch to the body tonight - but maybe an inch and a half just to be sure. The problem is that I now have 4 balls left. I will probably use most of 1 for the extra length of the body...but then I run into the problem of wondering if 3 will be enough for the yoke and collar? Ah yes, the wonders of designing something and running out of yarn 90% of the way through! The comforting thing is that the extra balls of yarn (if necessary) don't have to be EXACTLY the same dyelot - that's one of the wonderful things about Geode!

I'll be taking photos of my progress this evening before joining the parts together - and am SUPER excited to know I'll be able to wear the sweater before too much longer - whoo hoo!

What's everyone else knitting? Do you have a dorky yarn story like mine? Come on, I know you do!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ghosts and $15/wk

I'm usually not one to mess with things unnecessarily. Which is to say I prefer to leave well enough alone. I don't look for trouble. I avoid confrontational situations when possible. I steer clear of drama.

However, I've always been mindful of "other worldly things". I was complete addicted to Anne Rice's Vampire series (not the movies...just the books) and I read Stephen King from middle school through college. I was intrigued when my family stayed on the Queen Elizabeth and there was mention of ghost sightings. When I heard the stories about Lizzie Borden's home I read online reports about what people had experienced in the house. I also happened upon the "reality" tv show (Ghost Stories???) which set up some scientific equipment and monitored "activity" at the house. None of which I believe was proven or disproved.

To clarify...I do not necessarily believe ghosts...I just find the stories interesting (esp when you discount the ones that COULD be real...and leave all the crazies to their sensationalism).

But why do I mention ghosts?

When I got home from work yesterday Matthew told me a story of something that happened to him that morning. First of all, I must mention that Matthew has been known to tell tall tales or exaggerate the truth...so Ken and I listen patiently to all his stories and sort through what are "wolf cries" and what might actually have merit. Yesterday's story went something like this:

Ken had already left the house with Casey. Matt was getting ready to leave for school. He put on his jacket which he got from the basement stairwell hooks. He put on his sneakers which had been by the kitchen door. He went to retrieve his backpack from the dining room. At this point he heard someone, a female voice, telling him not to forget anything for school that day. He swears it was not his imagination.

Believing this all had something to do with a tired 11 year old who just had a rush of sugary cereal I left it to discuss with Ken when Matt was out of earshot.

When Matt went upstairs to change into his pj's Ken quickly came to me and said that he had a similar thing happen to him last week. He had been sitting at the dining room table when Matthew came up behind him. Matthew was saying something and Ken turned to tell him to "stop hovering" when he noticed no one was there. He called for Matthew and found him downstairs playing on his Wii. (** queue the theme from Close Encounters right about now **)

Now I'm just a little weirded out by all this - especially when both happened in the dining room. Does anyone know anything about paranormal occurances? It's probably something as simple as the house creaking or the heat coming on or the coffee pot cooling down.

And to get off the freaky subject of ghosts and spirits...let's discuss that Ken and I recently bought a new coffee maker and we've been bringing our coffee to work every day. I've approximated that this will be a weekly savings of $15 or $780 for the year! Not too shabby...fingers crossed we stick to the habit!

And because this is a knitting blog (mostly)...I'm almost done with the sleeves for the Geode sweater and should be ready to start working them with the body this evening. Dare I suggest I might be able to wear this sweater by the end of the week??? Look for updates soon!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Getting It Together

Anyone who knows me understands that my husband is a "do-er". He can't sit still. He just can't. It is physically impossible for him to relax (unless he's sick).

So this cold weather is driving him stir crazy...seriously, it's worse than the kids and their stir-craziness! Oh sure, when it snows he's been outside for HOURS on end, shoveling our driveway/paths as well as our elderly neighbors. And if he could get away with it...he would just keep shoveling the entire town (or at least around the block).

Don't get me wrong though...I COMPLETELY appreciate his efforts and the fact that I don't have to be out there in the freezing temperatures with him. I am happy to stay inside in my pj's and watch Ramona The Brave (as E.C. has appropriately nicknamed Casey)...even when Ramona is more than a handful of mischievousness!

BUT...his "do-er-ing" spills over to me and often without warning.

Case in point, remember the insullating of the attic? Well that started off as a "trip" to Home Depot - not a pilgrimage to PURCHASE. It ended up being an afternoon/evening of my M.I.L. and I changing whatever plans we had to accomodate him.

On our drive home from Vermont he mentioned wanting to go to Ikea to purchase more peg-shelving for our basement. I asked "what do we need more shelving for?" His response was that there were "things" on the floor that could be put on shelves. I asked "what things?" He said "nevermind". This minute long conversation resulted in me having to reassess the bins/shelving in the basement which, in turn, meant I needed to purchase more bins to properly organize the holiday decorations, winter clothes, handbags, etc. Granted, there were boxes I hadn't opened since we moved in 2005...and in all honesty I DID want to organize the holiday bins once and for all. BUT I didn't want to do it last weekend - after having been way for 5 days in Vermont. Oh well, there goes MY schedule again.

In addition to the basement issue, I had also been harassed by hubby and bff Mike about "my" computer and how ancient it was. Hey, it's a home computer. It's used for the internet, pictures, ipod and SOME school projects. How fast does it really need to be? Granted, I did purchase it in 2001 but what does that have to do with anything? So we looked around a little and got a great deal on a HP Pavillion - and I do love it!

BUT...getting a new computer lead into the hubby's 4 year request/harassment of moving the computer desk in the office so that the computer faces a corner and "opens the room" up a bit more (for all of Ramona's toys). So, AGAIN, another UNPLANNED "to-do" was dropped on my lap - although hubby will claim "i was just kidding about moving the desk" - um, yeah, i don't think so. "Just kidding" is more like - I heard it from him once. Hearing about it for 4 years - yeah, it was easier for me to finally just move the darned thing. I just wonder...what's next?

And of course, "cleaning up" and "organizing" often means making a bigger mess of things than you started with...so now I have piles of things that need to go in newly labeled bins in the basement. But those piles are in the office and dining room so two rooms got messier already. Not to mention that I still need to put away clean clothes in our bedroom. And the list just never ends...thanks to the fact that: a) I'm a mom/woman; and b) I've got a do-er for a husband!

Urgh - who else has a do-er? Can we start a therapy group?

And my dearest Dora made a great point last time...she made the comment that she knows where everything is in her home down to the last paperclip in the bottom drawer of the desk. I am the same way. My hubby, like hers, also FORGETS where everything is and relys on me to find his lost treasures. Sometimes I just tell him and step-son where things are. Sometimes I make them sweat it out and play "hotter and colder" with them...sadly, this gives me some sense of inner satisfaction.

On the knitting front I was able to finish Ramona's striped sweater on Friday night - I even frogged the first sleeve and made both shorter to fit without rolling up. With the snow and hubby being MIA on Saturday I barely got anything else accomplished in the way of knitting. I was able to get some time in on the sleeves of my Geode sweater while we watched Borat on Saturday night. I'm hoping to get them done tonight or tomorrow so I can add them to the body (already done and set aside) and start the yoke - which I am SUPER excited about. Once Geode sweater is done I'm going to give the Tangled Yoke sweater "an old college try" and finish it once and for all - cause I honestly do want to wear it this winter - honest. As long as the Berroco and Noro sock yarns stay quiet on my knitting desk we'll be fine (for a week or so!).

Please tell me someone had a RELAXING weekend - give me reason for hope!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Doing Math

A little known fact (mostly to non-knitters) is that knitting requires a LOT of math. Granted, you can certainly follow patterns and never calculate a thing. However, you're bound to come across a sweater that you want to customize to your fit; or something that says "you have x stitches. On the next row decrease evenly across by 30 stitches so that you have y stitches for next section." It's going to happen...it's just a matter of time. You're going to become a knitmatician.

My project notebook is filled with numbers - addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, long division, and an undiscovered prime number! Anyone who sees sketches in the notebook comments on the numbers everywhere...and they're surprised.

Which leads me to this...

I was reading on Rebecca's blog about the number of hours of practice it takes, and the difference it makes, to being great (10,000 hours) , good (8,000 hours) or mediocre (4,000 hours) at something. I thought I would figure out my number and blog about it so you can figure out your number (if you're so inclined).

Obviously...knitting is my forte...and, on average, this is how I knit...

In 1997 - 1998 I knit 4 sweaters & 2 scarves @ approx 100 hours total

In 2001 - 2002 I knit an afghan @ approx 20 hours and a few scarves @ approx 5 hours each = 35 hours

From August of 2006 to the present (approx 127 weeks) I have knit as follows:
2 hours a day on the train (10 hours)
1.5 hours a day at night (7.5 hours)
6 hours per weekend (6 hours)
Total: 23.5 hours per week...let's say 24 hours for arguments sake

127 x 24 = 3,048

Grand total (100+35+3,048) = 3,183

Really? I'm just...(not even???)...mediocre? I guess I just assume I'm a "good" knitter - at least I feel like a "good" knitter.

It will take me 34 more weeks to become mediocre (or by Labor Day 2009)

3.85 years to become good (or by November 2012)

5.46 years to become great (or by the end of June 2014)

Man, depressing.

On the flip side, though, these numbers are just theories. They are just guidelines, like the bell curve. They don't take into account the quality of the hours spent. Or the natural ability of the person and the task they are performing. Did Dizzy Gillespie spend 10,000 hours on the brass before he was determined "great"? Did Michael Jordan spend 10,000 hours on the court before he could fly? Hey, I'm not even saying I'm in the same ballpark as those guys...no way Jose...but see how it's all the perspective of things?

Happy knitmatics to you!

The Human Brain

I absentmindedly must have been singing a song from The Spongebob Squarepants movie in my head this morning when I got to thinking about how much information the human brain can accumulate and store.

Here's a list of 5 random things I know I know...

1. I wrote two theses in college - both for my degree in Art History. The first was a comparison of paintings done by Canaletto...my favorite Italian painter of all time. The second was about Native American sandpaintings. Almost 20 years later, both of these papers are still quite good (in my humble opinion) and neither show much of the naive person I must have been at the time. Which is quite a testament to my studies I suppose.

2. Yes, I do know some of the "Goofy Goober" song from the SBSP's movie - complete with horrifying images of David Hasselhoff - egad!

3. I adore Picasso's blue period because of it's historical significance. My favorite Picasso, however, is located right here in NYC and am thrilled to go to MOMA (although I don't go nearly enough) to see "her" - Girl Before a Mirror. I could spend hours in front of that painting it is so terrific.

4. I remember random lyrics to songs I listened to in middle school...and perhaps earlier! The other day I had to call a car service called (NO JOKE) White Line Limo. All I could think of was the Duran Duran song from the early 80s which talks about the other white lines...blowing away.

5. I recognize voices VERY quickly - friends/family are often amazed at this. My hubby finds this trait both helpful and annoying. Case in point, last night we were watching part of Kung Fu Panda. Whenever a new character would speak I would say: Dustin Hoffman; Jack Black; the guy from Knocked Up; the voice of the son in Curious George. I like this trait...no matter how weird it may sound.

So what weirdness do you have in your brain? Isn't it just amazing that we really have no control (for the most part) about what dwells in there permanently?

Happy Friday to all!

** BTW, I never got photos of the prizes...so for those that are interested, the grand prize included two balls of Paton's stretchy sock yarn (purples, etc.), a project bag from Kaleidoscope Yarns, a pair of earrings from my friends etsy shop, a yarn cutter, and some other stuff I got as donations from etsy peeps. The 2nd place prize was 2 balls of KnitPicks Palette (purple also) and 3rd place was a skein of C.T.H. Supersock yarn (jewel colors). Thanks again to all those who participated. Maybe I'll make this an annual event!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Happiness is a Warm Puppy

I grew up reading the Sunday comics. In particular, I grew up loving the Peanuts because my mom was/is a huge Snoopy fan. And let's be honest, what's not to love about Snoopy? I remember we had Peanut's book called Happiness is a Warm Puppy which depicted Snoopy dancing across the pages with quotes reminding us of the simple ways in which a dog makes life great.

Every morning when I wake up the first thing I do is scratch our dog's head. Her name happens to be Peanut - but was not named after the cartoon. Peanut sleeps at my hubby's feet every night. When I come back after a shower the next thing I do is kiss her head. Most of the time she's awake and rolls over for a quick tummy rub. Since she is part husky her fur is thick and soft underneath. She is a beautiful dog and I love sharing that moment in time with her every day. It's just so peaceful.