Thursday, February 25, 2010

Somewhat exhausted

I've been having some tummy troubles for the past few days and just haven't felt up to doing much of anything.

I knitted some, of course. And the Francis Revisted is churning along beautifully despite my slack knitting schedule.

Anyway, I just wanted to drop in and let you all know that I'm not dead yet.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Francis, Revisted

It was supposed to be warmer today so I went outside to knit. And I did, despite the fact that it was. not. warm. At all.

Anyway, here are the fruits of my labor:

(just looked at this photo again, and DAMN the light was good today)

Here's a shot of the view from my knitting spot:

With the Statue of Liberty behind it: (yeah, I know, wah wah wah, it was cold, wah, you can see the Statue of Liberty from your knitting spot, quit whining, jeeze!)

Another shot, just because: (that's Staten Island in the background there)

In other news I discovered that I completely screwed up my Damson this weekend, and will have to rip about 30 rows. Amazingly enough, my screwup didn't affect the stitch count. It just looks ugly. Le Sigh.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Progress made and progress lost

Of course progress is all just a myth anyway.

On the Damson (Damson II, Revenge of the Damson) I was knitting along this afternoon on my way home from work (while listening to Melody Gardot, who is TRULY outstanding, and on sale on iTunes right now) and mentally congratulating myself for having gotten this far and not having any major screw ups yet. I should know by now this is always a dangerous thought process to have, because inevitably... I screw up. Go figure.

I started the lace section and got all the way through the first row when I realized, wow, I sure do have a lot of stitches left over when I got through the repeats, and OOPS, OH CRAP, I totally ignored an entire section of the directions. heh.

Melody Gardot notwithstanding, I was CRANKED THE HECK OUT. (well, that, and I'd had a truly craptacular day at work. Which is going to be the norm for a while)

Here is the Damson as it stands now. Very illustrative picture, no? (that, my friends was sarcasm)

Making my day less crappy is the lovely package I got in the mail today from Webs with the yarn (Cascade Eco Wool) that I ordered a while ago to complete the Francis Revisited. Which is important when we get to the next picture below of the Coraline...

Here is the Coraline as it stands now. I discovered something this morning. I HATE this yarn. Passionately. It's the Drops Alpaca. I am Not. A. Fan. At all. Anybody want somewhere's around 1400 yards of the stuff?

So the Coraline gets frogged. The Drops shall leave my stash one way or another (seriously, if you want it, post a comment and I'll ship it off to you.)

And I shall find another yarn that hopefully I won't hate to knit the Coraline.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Still in the Boring Phase

As mentioned above, I'm still in the boring phase of the knitting projects. Everything looks pretty much the same, except bigger. Progress on the Coraline is sloooooooooooooooooooooow going. DK weight yarn, small needles, stockinette stitch. I've almost made it to the point where I fold for the hem, but past that... not much.

The Damson is still going without a hitch, which rocks. Still amazingly on count for each row. Go figure.

On the cooking front, I had a very Martha Stewart President's Day.

I made granola from the February issue of MS Living, which was delicious, except that I pretty much substituted for everything but the oats and maple syrup. I used hazlenuts instead of pecans, dried cranberries instead of rasins, pumpkin seeds instead of sesame seeds... yeah. Anyway, it was good. The basic recipe is 3 cups of oats, 1/4 cup of maple syrup and dump in whatever else you think will taste good, spread on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes at 300. (add the cranberries/raisins/whatever towards the last 10 minutes) The cool thing is that it isn't too sweet, and it is very filling (had some about two hours ago and my belly is still pleasantly full).

I also made one of the dinners from another MS Living magazine (no idea what issue) that involved roasted pork, roasted cauliflower (with pasta), spinach salad and a cranberry compote that was to die for.

Again with the substitutions, instead of using regular brandy for the cranberry compote I substutited apple brandy, which was PHENOMENAL. As much as I loathe cooked fruit, this was a pretty special mixture.

Also, it is snowing again. Had about an inch when I woke up this morning, and they're predicting up to five more throughout the day.

I can't find any boots that I like (for a decent price) for snow. They also need to be suitable for work. Any suggestions?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Big Pimpin at the NYBG

As I mentioned yesterday we went to the NY Botanical Gardens, (i.e. our backyard) and hung out as we were all desperately in need of green.

But first we had to walk over a large hill through the deep snow (well, there was a cleared path. My husband who didn't have boots decided on that route). I didn't realize how much snow we had gotten until we got to the top of the hill and the snow was over the tops of my boots (and well over Georgia's knees).

On to the warmth of the conservatory. Here's a shot looking up into the main dome of the glass house:

A shot of the jungle in the next room:

A pod on a chocolate tree:

Georgia and I messing around near the indoor water lily pond:

Bruce in the indoor pond area (with some pretty hanging flowers):

Some very out of season water lilies:

Poufy red flower thingies (appropriately called Powder Puffs):

Lest we get too complacent, a view from into the courtyard from the glasshouse:

If you ever have the thought that fern fiddleheads are delicate and tiny, check out these suckers (with Bruce's hand included for scale):

No idea what these things are. We call them Crayon flowers. They look waxy and fake:

On to the desert. There are two desert rooms there. One for the Americas and one for Africa.

This is the Americas:

Pretty pink flowers that smell awesome:

Georgia splashing in puddles:

And that's it for today. We took more than 100 pictures there yesterday. It's amazing how we can go there all the time and the place always feels as new and fresh (and amazing) as it did the first time we went.

Since we're members, we generally go at least once a week. It's necessary for recharging. And I've been knitting in there, which is nice. Excellent light.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bread Experiement Part II

I baked the bread this evening. Forgot to take a picture when it came out of the oven. Well, "forgot" as in, we grabbed a knife and dove right in.

Here's what was left:

Review thus far, making the dough is quite easy, even for a newbie like me. When I took it out of the fridge to rise for 40 minutes it never really got to room temperature so it was still cold when I put it in the oven. I don't really feel like it rose enough the second time around before baking. It was a little dense. Delicious, but dense.

Also, I completely screwed up the cutting on the top. Oops. Newbie mistake. Fortunately my bread baking expert husband was on hand to give me advice for the next time.

Overall, the results were good, but the technique needs a little tweaking. I'll try again tomorrow.

In other news, we went to the Botanical Gardens today (Below's a little preview of what I'll post tomorrow.)

Yep, we spent quite a bit of time in the conservatory.

Despite the lure of the conservatory, Georgia and I did have a good time tromping around in the incredibly deep snow and we trekked up a steep hill in the "arctic tundra."

A yarn from Canada (Canadian Yarn Porn!)

My sister-in-law, Ella, recently returned from a trip to Vancouver, Canada (she got back a couple days before the Olympics) and while she was there she (knowing me) made a special trip to Urban Yarns and picked up some lovely yarns for me. Excellent choices, both:

Indigo Moon Superwash Merino - Fingering weight.

Fleece Artist Slubby Blue, which is a 100% Blue Faced Leicester yarn. Absolutely gorgeous yarn. And it's soooooooooooooo soft. I want to make something really special with this.

I've finally watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, which were lovely. Thank goodness for iTunes. I downloaded the Ceremonies Season pass for something like $2.99 and it was well worth it. I've also subscribed to the figure skating and alpine skiing season passes for equivalent amounts of money, and I'm pretty happy with them so far. Especially since I can fast forward through most of the boring stuff.

The Coraline is coming along. I've done about 20 rows so far, and am getting close to the point where I'll turn up the hem. That's going to be fun. New skills learned: Crochet on provisional cast on. That's exciting for me. And I can't wait to get to the smocking part at the top. That is going to be awesome.

We're off to the botanical gardens for a little bit to lift our moods. Then probably on to Whole Foods this afternoon and on to part II of the bread experiment. I'll post some pix later on.

The dough from last night rose SUPER fast and after two hours I stored it in the fridge. That was pretty cool. Can't wait to bake it up and see how it turns out.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bread Experiement Part I

Georgia and I mixed up our first batch of dough tonight. I'll let it rise until I go to bed, and then we'll bake it at some point tomorrow.

Here's a picture of the dough immediately after mixing:

Also, despite all protests to the contrary, I joined an unofficial Ravelympics team: Perches' Team Awesome.

I cast on for the Coraline last night, so that will be my Ravelympics project.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I mean, really...'s not that I'm not knitting. It's just that I'm in a kind of holding pattern. Chugging away (miraculously problem free, knock on wood) on Damson II, and still waiting to do the seams on Bruce's sweater.

The pictures of the Damson from today look, well, much like the pictures from two days ago. Except bigger.

I started to swatch for Coraline last night, and glory be, for once in my life I'm spot on. Same needle size and everything. Go figure.

Anyway, I was reading about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day on somebody's blog (I just went and searched and couldn't find it. If it's you, PLEASE take credit for it in the comments) and it sounded fascinating. I poked around some on B&N and Amazon for reviews and people are just raving about it, so I had a hankering to make bread and a coupon to Borders, so I bought it today!

I'll report back on how well it works on Sunday or Monday. Tomorrow is a kiddo's birthday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The problem with snow days... that I knit feverishly all day long and then I get completely burnt out.

Exhibit A:

I knit like a madwoman on Bruce's sweater yesterday and finished all the knitting. Last night I finished weaving in all the ends and I sewed the collar down. It looks good. I went to sew up the seams on the sleeves, got about halfway done with one of them, realize I had done a crappy job, and had a mini meltdown, ripped out all the seam, and threw the project aside.

So, yes, the good news is that the beast has been conquered. I'm inordinately pleased. It desperately needs to be blocked, and I'm wondering if maybe blocking before I try to sew up the sleeve seams might not be a good idea. Because, you know, it would make the edges of the sleeves sit flat, and right now they're curling like little beasties.

Of course, I have no pictures.

However I will say that I really enjoyed the short-row shaping on the collar. I learned something new! (how to do short rows on ribbing)

Also, my sister-in-law got back from a trip to Vancouver, BC and brought me some really lovely yarn. I'll be showing that off in a post tomorrow.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand, the Damson II is going beautifully well. I'm somewhat amazed at how much my knitting skills have improved since October 2009. In October this thing was giving me absolute FITS. This time around I'm breezing through it with nary a screwup.

Also no pictures. Still looks pretty much like it did yesterday. I'm up to row 40.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oh, and because I'm completely insane

On top of all the ambitious sweater projects I have lined up for myself, I decided to start another Damson. Which gave me fits the last time I attempted it.

This one is for my dear friend Jorie, who has no knitted items from me at all. This is a tragedy of epic proportions. She picked out the yarn when we were at fibrespace in Alexandria, VA over Christmas break. She didn't realize she was picking out the yarn, but she fell in love with it and oohed and aahed... Done and done.

It's a malabrigo sock in Primavera. Gorgeous yarn. Really pretty colors. And absolutely not suited to me in the slightest, so there's no temptation to keep it.

Here's an in progress pic:

Also, on the good news front, my mother sent me one of my father's camera's. It's a digital SLR, about 4 years old, which I'm excited about. I think it will be a good starter camera for me. It'll give me a chance to learn a little bit about photography before I start investing in a newer camera.

It was bittersweet to get his camera in the mail. I opened it up and the camera bag smelled like my dad. And there was a 3x5 card in there that he'd written a bunch of notes on. I missed him a lot at that point. It's the first visceral reminder of my father that I've gotten since he died.

So I'll keep the 3x5 card in there.

Also, I'm nearly done with Bruce's sweater. I completed the body last night and now all I'm doing is the collar! WOO!

As you all may have heard, it's snowing a little bit in NYC:

Georgia and I went out in it because we were feeling a bit stir crazy. That wasn't the smartest thing we've done in a while. 40 mph winds and it is snowing horizontally.

In other words, awesome knitting weather.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In completely non-knitting related news

The Hudson River (and parts of New York Harbor) froze:

And in other news, Bruce and Georgia traded hats on the subway:

The sweater of doom!

I thought I had finally conquered the issues with the cabled panels on Bruce's Sweater (Terry's Pullover) that I have been working on for an eternity. (November 9, 2009). Ok, so it only FEELS like an eternity.

I ripped, reknitted, discovered that it still wasn't right, ripped, reknitted (repeat x5).

On Saturday I sat down on the subway (apparently, this is where I concentrate the best, go figure) and recharted the entire cabled section by hand on graph paper, with only a little interference from Georgia. I would put a picture of it up here and all, but unfortunately, it would go against a copyright or something, and I don't wanna do that.

The re-charting worked. I had a lovely visual of how the entirety of the cabled section looked, and I put in helpful directional arrows reminding me which way I should be reading the chart on any given side.

Of course, now I've discovered that I have about 60 too many stitches left on my needles at the end of the cabled section (oops) and am scrambling a little madly to reduce the number of stitches as fast as I can before it's time to shut this thing down.

Also, it looks like I'm going to have enough yarn to finish the sweater. Phew.

Here are some crappy pictures taken at night:

Monday, February 8, 2010

The weekend report

News items:

1. Washed and blocked the Featherweight Cardigan, with the help of the cat and the kid. Managed to not get a single photo of it after it came off the blocking board. Smart, I know.

2. Took my Borders rewards AND a coupon, went to Borders at Columbus Circle and got these two books:

The first book is the precursor to Knitters Book of Wool, which I bought and love. I have many questions about yarn after reading the book of wool, so hopefully this will answer most of them.

3. From Continuous Cables, I learned why my ribbing got so crappy over the last year, and a quick little technique for fixing it. When I first started knitting I was doing so combination style, purling English and knitting Continental. When you're knitting ribbing, or cabling, a good way to keep your leftmost stitch on either the rib or the cable from being sloppy and loose is to knit through the back loop and then untwist the stitch when you're purling back through that section. Which is exactly what I was doing when I was knitting combination style.

Now that I'm knitting in fully English style, I'm having problems. Go figure.

4. I spent a goodly amount of time knitting here yesterday:

We needed sunshine, warmth and greenery, so we headed over to the New York Botanical Gardens (i.e. our backyard) and just sat in the sunshine in the conservatory (glass house) in the lovely 75 degree interior. That is also perfectly humid, which was totally necessary for our poor sinuses.

5. After trying to knit on Bruce's sweater again and failing, I finally just re-charted the entire cable section so that I could look at the entire pattern visually, and put in helpful directional arrows and stuff. This worked! I'm now almost to the top of the sweater, which is awesome.

There are a few other items (like my homework from the sweater design class and a couple of yarn/pattern disastrous match-ups) but I'll save those for another post.

All in all, a busy and productive weekend.

Off to work...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The good news

First bit of good news: I finished Ella's sweater (this would be the Featherweight Cardigan). YAY! So excited about this. I blocked it last night. Here is a photo from in-progress blocking:

As you can see, Georgia is helping. And the colors really didn't show up very well at all. That's what I get for trying to take pictures at night.

Second bit of good news: I am considerably smaller than I had originally estimated in terms of bust measurement. So I'm either losing weight or I was overestimating how big I was. My Liesl is a bit too big for me (by about 6 inches in the bust). Heh. It truly is the sweater of doom!

Third bit of good news: Finished unpicking back to the point where I made a mistake on Bruce's Sweater. Providing I can actually concentrate on it this time around, it should be relatively smooth sailing.

Concentrate is the operative word in that sentence.

Let the mad casting on for new projects begin!

Also, a totally knitting unrelated story:

Georgia has been getting a little bit of eczema on her face, so I've been putting some cream on her at night to help.

Last night I walked into the bathroom to help her brush her teeth and her face was very shiny. So I said, "Did you put some cream on your face already?" and she replied "No, it's pudding," as if it were the most obvious thing in the whole entire world.

Yep. That's my kid.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Second Sweater

The sweater that I forgot about yesterday (even though I had it knocking around somewheres in my little brain) was Ingenue by Wendy Bernard. She blogs over at Knit & Tonic (love the name of her blog!). Here's a pic, courtesy of her project page on Ravelry. It's from her book Custom Knits.

I like the Audrey Hepburn-esque look of this sweater. I haven't decided what yarn I want to use for this one, so if anybody has any suggestions, I'm open!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And another...

I've decided that in addition to Coraline, I'm going to knit two other sweaters. Because I'm crazy like that, yo.

First up will be Francis Revisted by Beth Silverstein.

(Picture courstey of Ms. Silverstein's pattern page)

I really want a cowl necked sweater, and I love the seed stitch detailing on this one. It's pretty fancy. I think I'm going to knit it in Cascade 220 in a cream color. I'm envisioning it under my burgundy red velvet blazer during the fall with some jeans and my awesome tan Frye boots. (thank you Bruce!)

And since I've started writing this post, I've completely forgotten what the second sweater was, so I'll have to post about that another time.

I've also come up with a way to work on Bruce's sweater on the subway. The thing that's been stopping me is that it's so heavy I haven't been able to support it while on the subway, and it was killing my hands and wrists. So I came up with a plan to get past that little issue, and will implement it as soon as I'm done with Ella's sweater.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm burning up...

I am burning through my WIPs, lemme tell ya.

Ella's Featherweight Cardigan is almost done. I picked up all the stitches for one sleeve last night, and I'm about halfway through with it already! Woo! I think it'll take me three more subway rides to completely finish that sucker up.

(again, major problems with the whole daylight thing for photos. I'll see if I can get a decent one tonight, but it's doubtful)

And isn't it entertaining that I can now measure my progress on a project in terms of subway rides? They're about 45 minutes long. So 90 minutes a day...

I've ripped out one row of Bruce's sweater and have one more to go until I reach the mistake. Once I've done that, it should be relatively smooth sailing. Although, honestly, I knitted that section so tightly I'm not sure how long it will take me to rip back.

Next up: Coraline

Here's a pic, courtesy of Ysolda's site:

I'm going to do mine in Drops Alpaca in a lovely raspberry pink color. And yes, it will be for me, damnit.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I am an FO machine!

Well, I finished my scarf yesterday afternoon, and I'm pleased to tell you that it can definitely handle weather colder than 20 degrees F. My neck was nice and toasty warm.

So, that's three FOs (Finished Object, Janey) for January! The Liesl, the Citron and my scarf. Whatever I'm going to call it.

I'm also making great progress on Ella's sweater (which is the featherweight cardigan) and will likely be done with that in the next few days.

I really don't feel like dealing with DPNs (Double Pointed Needles, J.) for the sleeves so I'm probably going to either teach myself magic loop or go up to Purl Soho on my lunch break and pick up some short circular Addis.

And I realized today that my entire collection of needles is a gigantic mess, so I need to do some organizing pretty quickly here.

I'm rethinking my friend's Phyllotaxis. I don't think the yarn I'm using is quite the correct one for him, so I'll probably frog what I have thus far, rewind the yarn and try another one. He did mention that he'd like something machine washable, so maybe some Berocco Vintage?

Any other ideas for some nice soft machine washable yarn suitable for a scarf?