Sunday, October 14, 2007

Yeesh - happy to be home...

Just spent five of the last six weeks in Maryland for work. Whew... I'm thoroughly tired of living in a hotel, and of being away from the dh. Luckily I was able to bring the dog for the last two weeks. During this time I also had the joy of having both sets of in-laws visit (on different weekends, thank god). One set decided to stay with us in our little one-bedroom apartment. While it was nice to see all of them it was a little crazy to be back and forth from MD (a four hour drive from NJ without traffic) to meet them and get the apartment ready for guests. So blogging has taken a back seat, 'specially since I forgot to bring the computer for one part and the dh stole my camera (his project has priority - more on that next post).

But now the air has taken a chill finally and I'm gearing up for Christmas. Crazy that being a knitter means that Halloween hasn't even arrived yet and I already feel behind in my holiday gifts. I'm thinking that this year will be a lot of socks, hats and baby clothes. Here's the funnest parts to my holiday knitting this year, 1) The Christmas Around the World Swap and 2) I have five family members who recently immigrated here from the Philippines who are going to experience winter for the first time. Nothing like knitting holiday gifts for people who really need/want knitted items. For example, I have decided to never knit for my bro ever again since I have now had two of my knits for him (in cashmere and alpaca no less) end up in his discard pile in my parents' basement. I've gotten the hint. Dh has worn his knitted socks ragged and waxes poetic about them, so he will continue to be blessed with knits.

I'm also really excited about getting handknit items from my swap pals. Did I mention that I was burned by my first Sockapalooza pal? So now I have a super cool sock savior who has already emailed me and sounds like a lot of fun. I also have a great Christmas Around the World Swap pal who is eager to have me post some more. So here goes:

In my likes deparment, I have recently fallen in love with lace, but I also like subtle colorwork, textured knits and just plain stockinette and garter. When I say subtle, I guess that I usually avoid too many contrasting colors, and tend towards patterns using two-colors or same-color families. As a result (and also because I'm sort of lazy) I haven't done too much fair-isle or intarsia. Alright, mostly 'cuz I'm lazy. I started this cute pink and brown simple fair-isle dog sweater for my best friend's pug for Christmas last year and gave it up for a simple fez 'cuz it took too damn long.

Back on the subject of likes - I like the idea of socks, hats, scarves, mitts, bags, pillows, bowls, dishcloths and even baby items since the dh and I are thinking of starting a family in the next year. Things I probably wouldn't use would be lingerie, bikinis, blankets (way too much work anyway), ponchos, anything neon, mustard yellows, pea greens, and tan. Knitted pet peeves would be variegated yarn that pools too much, scratchy yarns for next to skin, and hats that don't cover the ears. Honestly though, I haven't had anything handknit since I was a kid so I'll be ectastic over anything, even if it was a scratchy, pooling, puke green, drab mustard, and dust tan beanie that was two sizes too small for my head.

Hmm, in the world of sizes: I have a size 8.5 foot that is of medium width and the circumference of my head where I would put a hat is about 22 inches. I like scarves long enough to halve and pull the ends through the loop (don't know how to describe this) and socks that reach mid-calf.

Will pressure dh to finish project and relinquish camera to post pics of WIP's...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Christmas Around the World Swap Questionnaire

Whoops - been in Maryland for a few weeks for work and didn't realize that the Christmas Around the World Swap had started. So here are my questionnaire answers real quick:

Are you religious?
I was raised Catholic but I do not belong to any organized church right now.

How long have you been knitting? Would you consider yourself a Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced?
I would definitely consider myself at least Intermediate and possibly Advanced depending on the project.

Do you have any other hobbies besides knitting?
I also like to garden, hike, spin, and just started quilting. I also weave but don't have room for a loom at the moment.

Favorite color(s)?
Lavender and blues.

Do you collect anything?
Just my yarn stash.

Are you allergic to any fibers or animals?
I'm allergic to cats.

Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a red hound mix named Silva. Her fur graces all of my knitting since I often knit with her on my lap.

Coffee, Tea, or Hot Chocolate?
Yum to all.

Cookies or Sweets?
Both sound good, but cookies sound better.

Do you knit socks?
Yes, my newest fave technique is with two circs.

If not socks then what? (tell us about your favorite knits)

Do you put up a Christmas tree? If not then what do you do?
We've put up trees in previous years, but our current apartment is small. We do decorate the house and our windows.

Favorite holiday treats?
Cookies, cranberry sauce, and cardamon bread.

Favorite holiday smells?
Frasier fir, spruce, and cinnamon.

Do you celebrate Christmas in a traditional or unconventional way? Please elaborate.
Traditional in that I celebrate with family and friends, but unconventional in that it can include playing DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) and karaoke.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
SInging carols, eating a big homemade meal and putting up the decorations.

Finish the sentence: “For me Christmas is all about....”
...spending time with loved ones and thinking the best of the world.

If you were a Christmas ornament you would be…….?
...something homemade.

What was your favorite gift you've ever received? Or given?
The best gift I've ever received was either a spinning wheel or my engagement necklace (DH rocks!). The best gift I've ever given was socks to my husband.

When do you start your Christmas?
I don't allow myself to put up decorations until after Thanksgiving and we don't start to exchange gifts until Christmas Eve.

Do you send Christmas cards? Do you make them or buy them?
I don't send out cards every year, but when I do I make them.

What is your favorite Christmas dish?
Shabu shabu (hot pot cooking) and roast beef.

Carolers are at your door. What do you do?
Grab some treats, the camera and go to listen.

When do you open presents? Christmas eve or Christmas morning?

Do you celebrate with family or friends or both?

Went for quick rather than clever - I'll try to elaborate in future posts to help out my swap partner. This is really making me realize that I need to start my Christmas knitting. Yikes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Waiting for the sun...

So while surfing the blogosphere I've been picking up some ideas on digital phototaking. Seems that my prime blogging time (nighttime at home) is not conducive to good pictures (duh, i know). So my pics often have this icky yellow tinge, and while the pics I take using a full-spectrum bulb are better, natural light is still wayyyy better.

So I have a bunch of FO's to photograph but no sun. Here in coastal north NJ we have had no sun for more than four days. And no sun forecasted until tomorrow afternoon. Ugh. At least the cool breeze is a nice change. So I have lots to blog about, but no pics. Still waiting for my sockapalooza socks too. Maybe the sun and my socks will show up together...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

!#$!#$% Errata....And cool sockblockers.

Holy crap! I get my sock pal's package all neatly done up with gifties, beautifully blocked and sent out right on time . . . . then WHAMMO! I, the smug little knitter, decide to check out what other knitters' Merino Lace Socks look like on Ravelry so I can go, "Nah, mine look better". Humph, can we say, "pride goeth before a fall"?

I find out the the Favorite Socks book had an erratum on the foot chart. You know, the chart I followed to the tee. Yup, that loss of the purl stitches in between the lace panels - not a cute little design feature I thought was to reduce friction on the foot, but a big fat error. A bizarre error since the pattern's premiere in the Interweave Knits magazine was fine. If you don't see this error in your book, that means you have the second edition (lucky bastard) where it was corrected. ARRRRRRGGGGH! Though maybe it was better I didn't see it before I sent them out. I would have been tempted to stay up all night frogging and reknitting the feet.

So the other little misgivings I have about my socks are all put into perspective. I saw all of the cute labels people wrapped their socks in and realized that, whoops!, forgot to give my poor sock pal any info on the yarn I used. But no problem, that's easily solved with an email. I want to finally "meet" her anyway.

So, on to happier news. Remember the new sockblockers I mentioned? Wasn't convinced that sockblockers were completely necessary, but I have to admit that for gifting and phototaking, they rock. Plus, my sockblockers were custom-painted for me! I love Etsy! These my cool new sockblockers from Leggy Creations:

Leggy Creations sockblockers, originally uploaded by Saidagrrl.

Oh, just got an email from my sock pal, lostpurl (aka suzann), and I checked out her blog: she got her socks and all is well! They fit her and she likes them! Yay! Can't wait to get my socks! This has been so much fun. Definitely outweighs the funny looks I get from friends when I try to explain sockapalooza. The dh understands, but he's special :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ta-dah! Just Under the Deadline

Thought I might not be able to finish AND block in time for August 2nd. But things pulled together perfectly. I even got my new sockblockers in time for perfect shaping as well as some cool sock knitting tools as gifties.

Check these out:

And a close-up:
The pattern is Merino Lace Socks from Interweave's Favorite Socks. The yarn is FlockSock yarn from vanCalcar Acres in the Crimson Rioja colorway (same as what's used in the Kitri socks). The lace markers and counter bracelet are from Hide and Sheep on Etsy. I have the same bracelet in purple, as well a few sets of the markers.

Here's a close-up of the markers:

I also added some knitting themed notecards I made from a Kaspareks stamp. I hope my sock pal likes it all. Most of all I hope that the socks fit. I think I made them to her measurements, but you never know until they get tried on.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Garden and Knitting Drama Interfere with Blogging

I'm a sucky blogger. I've let events related to my blog topics interfere with my blogging. I really need to carry my camera around with me at all times. I guess that I could post without pics but unless the writing is stellar I personally prefer blogs with pics myself.

The garden drama is that we almost didn't have a community garden anymore. Long story involving the loss of our lease with the city Adopt-a-Lot program, but we got it back and I think that almost losing it has made it stronger. We didn't know that so many people cared about the garden. Even the city, who could have been the bad guy in all this seemed to be doing everything they could to help us get the lease back. The nice neighbors kept it watered the weeks it was padlocked by the city so the peas and mixed greens I seeded in April were waiting for me when we got back in this past weekend. Pics coming...

I'm a sucky sock pal too. My very nice sock pal sent me a secret email asking for favorite patterns last week and I haven't posted any help for her. So, hi sock pal, and right now my fave patterns are the embossed leaves from interweave, lombard street from magknits and anything lace. My only lace pet peeve is when the holes get too big. Though, who knows, with the weather getting hotter I may rethink that peeve to fave. We are trying to put off the AC as long as possible.

My knitting drama is that I keep getting slammed with the socks I start for my sock pal. I've had to rip out multiple times. I've gone from the Vine Lace pattern from Socks, Socks, Socks to the Merino Lace Socks from Favorite Socks now. Most of my problems stem from gauge but the rest is just whether or not I jive with the lace repeats. I think I must have cast on 10 different times so far and knitted at least 10 inches in ripped out total.

Pics to come...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

MD Sheep and Wool Festival - The Sights

So while I didn't get much blogging done last week I did get to do some serious feeding of my fiber stash. In a strange coincidence that leads me to believe that God is a knitter, work obligations conveniently placed me in Maryland during the big Sheep and Wool Festival for the second year in a row. Maybe next year work can take me to Rhinebeck or the Taos festival. So today I'll show you pics of the festival itself and tomorrow I'll save for pics of my fiber spoils.

Yarn, yarn, everywhere. I didn't know where to look first. The most fascinating parts were the sources of all this fiber goodness. I loved being able to see all of the varieties of sheep, alpaca, mohair goats and even angora bunnies.

Skip this next photo, vegetarians, but the Sheep and Wool Festival wasn't just about using animals for fiber.

This was something I always wanted to see, the Sleeping Beauty type of spinning wheel in action. Enormous and according to the vendor, not easy to use. Pretty neat though.

Just like a dog show, sheep were being lined up and judged.

There was even some fiber-related entertainment:

And then of course there was the inevitable time to go home loaded down with the stash enhancement I will share with you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Back in town again...

Just a little lapse in blogging... Was away for work with little time to blog, but managed to fit a lot of fiber related fun into my trip. I was conveniently in Maryland again for the Sheep and Wool Festival and got to check out Stich DC while I was in the area as well. I've got lots of pics to share about the Festival coming soon (tonight with any luck).

Feeling behind on my Sockapalooza socks. I've swatched a few yarns and read tons of patterns, but can't seem to make a decision. At first I was thinking Embossed Leaves in STR Beryl. However, my sock pal seems to like red, so now I'm thinking vanCalcar Acres crimson rioja (of Kitri sock fame). However, I don't know about the pattern now. Definitely lace socks, but what pattern? Do I try to suprise my sock pal or go with a pattern I know she likes? Mostly looking at patterns in the new Favorite Socks book, Socks Socks Socks and Knitty. Unfortunately my fiber travels last week didn't give me many new sock ideas but got me to buy lots of yarn/patterns for new projects :)

Wondering if my secret sock pal has already started yet? Or maybe is waiting for more posts from me to decide? Better start taking pictures of my MD Sheep and Wool Festival purchases then...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

More Socks!

Now for the socks in progress:

Jaywalker from Magknits in Koigu PPM from my favorite yarn shop, Patricia's Yarns. Cute pattern though I hope that the bumpiness evens itself out after blocking. Notice the sock sporting my handy new tin sock holder. I have a different sock holder in wood and I haven't decided which I prefer yet.

And here's my pride and joy right now:

Yes, it doesn't look like much yet, but this is the swatch for a possible sock pal pattern. The yarn is Socks That Rock from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in the Beryl colourway. I'm thinking of doing Embossed Leaves, Merino Lace Socks or Vine Lace Socks. The first two are from the new Interweave Knits book, Favorite Socks, and the last pattern is from Socks, Socks, Socks. What I'm wondering now is whether my sock pal would prefer a pattern that's new to her or a pattern she knows and loves. Hmmmm....

It seems that I knit very loosely compared to whomever printed the skein band. It says size 2, and I know I'm always slightly less than gauge so I tried 1.5, no luck. Then size 1, still not to gauge either so this last try is on size 0. And I'm still a little off. Agh. It feels really firm so I don't know if I should try to go smaller.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Sock FO's

As I promised here are some finished sock photos:

Okay, don't judge, these are the first socks I ever knit. Um, learned that Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece does NOT have enough stretch to make a good pair of socks. And that the same said yarn fuzzes up a lot in the washing machine. Basic toe-down ribbed sock pattern, I doubled the yarn in the heels which worked out well. Enjoyed giving the top cuff, heel, and toe a contrasting color. I mostly just wear them to bed .

This was my next sock, Thuja from, for my dh. The short leg was his choice. I used the same yarn (Artyarns Supermerino) and colorway (119) as in the pattern though it looks a lot darker in this photo (have to remember to take photos in daylight). Also found out that this yarn fuzzes up a lot in the wash too. Maybe it snuck out of the delicates into the jeans. I've also had to mend it already above the heel.

Another pair of socks for the dh. This pattern is from Interweave Knits - gotta look up which one. The yarn is Super Socks & Baby (80% superwash merino/20% nylon) from Tess' Designer Yarns that I picked up at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival last year. This was my first sock yarn that lived up to the name. Comes out of every wash with all the stitch definition I could ask for but is still soft enough for my scratchy wool-sensitive hubby. Hard to see but the color is blue with bits of green.

Next post - socks in progress and planned...

Sockapalooza saved me...

Okay, I'm still a lousy blogger, but I think that Sockapalooza 4 will save me. I just visited my sock pal recipient's blog and realized what a big help a blog is to figuring out what kind of socks to make. So I'm going to start blogging to help out my sock pal giver in his/her sock-stalking. Of course I'm going to love whatever I get but it seems so much more fun when you can see what your sock pal likes to knit and wear. So coming soon: pics of socks I've knitted and progress on socks in progress.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Brunswick Community Garden Clean-Up Day

Our community garden had its first clean-up of the season this past Saturday. Cleaned up our plot and added some manure. There it is in the lower right corner. Still a little too cold to plant and we're expecting a nor'easter tomorrow. Probably going to start with some sugar snap peas, sweet peas, spinach and mixed greens.

There's the dh cleaning up after the clean-up. We're looking forward to this garden season since we were out-of-town for most of last summer and didn't get to work our plot much.
Have to admit though, I'm still not convinced the Jersey City soil is safe enough to grow edibles. Any feedback about whether I should be worried?