Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Well, that didn't work

I finally relieved myself of some bad knitting mojo today. Back in October, I hit upon the brilliant idea of knitting these Sizzler scarves from Morehouse Merino (soft as Malabrigo, twice as expensive, but a local yarn to me!) as Christmas GIFTS (by the way, Morehouse is having a 30% off all lace yarn and lace kits sale right now... boy do I ever wish I was getting a kickback from them for free advertising. AHEM!).

Anyway, I chose the Indian Summer colorway because it looked bright and happy and very much my mother's colors, and I thought it would be a cute Christmas gift.

As you can see from the photo below, it was not so much cute as really really really hideous:

WHY did I finish it, you ask? Probably because I only recently experienced enough GAAK (growth as a knitter) to have the wherewithal to chuck a project that was really ugly.

So I took myself over to knitpicks.com (again, would really love a kickback for the free adverts. Guys? Hello!) and picked up some of the Jacquard dye in a teal color. Which I was hoping for, um, well, a teal colored dye result.

As you can see from the photos below, it came out not so much teal as black:

At this point I lost heart with the sizzler. It got wadded up and shoved into a cubbyhole where it has resided since October 2009.

Ella (sister in law, who benefits from all of my knitting f#$ ups) is currently growing out a pixie cut and is looking for things to cover her hair. She came over to pick up Georgia for her first sleepover today (MY BABY IS GETTING SO BIG!!!!!!!!) and for some reason the doomed Sizzler popped into my head as an appropriate hair covering. Of course, it is completely unblocked. And slightly felted from my dyeing attempt. But it works as a bandana, and will probably work as a scarf during the fall, and Ella is creative and will do cool things with it.

I took a couple of quick photos of it, and voila! Bad knitting mojo out of my life.

In other news, I'm still knitting on the boring Lettuce Pullover, the kitten (now named Beezer, short for Balthazar) is doing awesome, and I just pained my toenails a very fashionable brown/taupe color by Essie called Mink Muffs. No comments from the peanut gallery, Bruce.

I think my toenail color is the ONLY fashionable thing about me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Critical Steps

"Foolproof" Coffee Making

Dateline - August 30, 2010
Bronx, New York

It is important to remember certain critical steps when making coffee, all of which were, incidentally, forgotten this morning by a slightly exhausted working mother as she attempted to get her day started. "It's hard sometimes to make coffee before you actually have coffee," said Virginia, after embarrassing herself on multiple occasions this morning while attempting to brew coffee. "I mean, how am I supposed to remember all of these things at once?"

Critical Step 1:
Rinse out coffee filter holder after it has been sitting in the sink all night.
Reason: Chili and coffee are not a good combination.

Critical Step 2: Rinse all the soap off of the coffee filter holder after you wash it.
Reason: Soap and coffee are not a good combination.

Critical Step 3: Place filter in filter holder before adding coffee grounds and pouring water in.
Reason: Coffee should not be crunchy.

Critical Step 4: Do not pour milk into coffee filter holding the grounds.
Reason: Cold milk does not actually help brew coffee.

Critical Step 5: It helps to actually turn on the electric kettle and letting the water heat before pouring it through the grounds.
Reason: Cold water doesn't do much to brew coffee either.

It is in the interest of public service that we of Virginia is for Knitting offer these tips. Stop the coffee idiocy in its tracks. Knowledge is power. Knowing is half the battle.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

This is also the Bronx

We went to Orchard Beach and City Island yesterday afternoon. Most people don't realize how gorgeous the Bronx is, or how much park land our borough has - Orchard Beach is in Pelham Bay Park, which is the largest park in NYC. City Island is basically a New England fishing village with excellent views of Manhattan. Both places feel like you're on a totally different planet from the one that Manhattan is on - but somehow they all manage to coexist within the same city boundaries. Go figure.

Here is a detail shot of the rather rundown bathhouses at Orchard Beach. The City is currently in the design stage for renovations:

The bandstand at the beach:

We were at the beach as the tide was going out, and the shore was a little rocky.
I collected some lovely stones:

Orchard Beach is a crescent, and here is the far eastern side of the beach (with Georgia):

Some cool footprints. From left to right, mine, seagull and eastern great egret:

The eastern great egret himself:

In flight:

The sunlight through the grass on the path to City Island (that's the bridge to City Island in the background). You can't quite see it, but there's an adult egret and a baby egret on the sandbar:

Shot of the north side of City Island:

The City Island bridge:

It's very difficult to knit on the BX12 bus to City Island, by the way. The road is in terrible shape and very bumpy. I prevailed though, and managed to get a few rows in on the Lettuce Pullover.

We ate a lovely dinner at the Black Whale on CI, which has great food (great prices!) and questionable service. But hey, it's the Bronx, right?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee Agrees...

My Perfect Pie Shawl sucks, due to unforeseen yarn issues.

I can admit this. I have come to grips with the fact that I am loathing the heck out of the thing right now. I don't like the yarn, I don't like the fuzziness, the color, the way it looks, the way it drapes, the way it feels. Even the cats do not like this yarn. Bagheera (big cat) won't touch it, even though she's all over my knitting normally. (I may have spoiled her with Malabrigo)

This is another case of GAAK (growth as a knitter). I will be abandoning this project. I am quitting it RIGHT NOW. Feh.

The yarn is going in the trash. It's AWFUL.

Positive side: I like the pattern. I will probably try to knit it again using yarn that doesn't suck massively.

On to another project. And some good news!

The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee (as seen below) went to the vet today. We have confirmation of sex (male), a completely clean bill of health, vitamins and dewormer. And the vet waived his fee today because I rescued the little guy. Great vet.

Now all we need is a name. Georgia wants to name him Schwalkey. I said no.


Look at that little paw! So cute.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Next in Queue

Ok, I've figured out my next couple of projects, after I finish the current two (if I ever actually finish the Lettuce Pullover. I will. Really. By... October).

I'm going to knit the Hap Blanket by Ysolda:

Photo courtesy Ysolda. Pattern can be purchased on Rav and here.

I'm doing the Hap Blanket in Knitpicks Wool of the Andes Bulky yarn in a kind of teal/green with brown/beige accents.

I will also be making the Braided Mischief Scarf from Scarf Style (Rav Link) by Pam Allen and Ann Budd:

Photo by Sassenach (rav link)

This one is for Bruce (see! Non-selfish knitting!) and I'm doing it in Knitpicks Gloss DK in a color very similar to what you see above (It's a color called Masala. Sounds warm). It's gonna be purdy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Addition

Georgia and I rescued a tiny little kitten yesterday afternoon.

As best as I can tell, he's about three weeks old. His ears aren't up yet, and he's kinda wobbly.

So far he hasn't wanted to take a bottle, but he's hungry. I spoke with the vet this morning and he said that it can take up to 48 hours for kittens to take to bottles, and not to worry too much.

He's a feisty little sucker.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yes, Virginia

It is possible to rip back approximately 30 rows of lace in mohair.

Fun? No.

Possible? Yes, unfortunately. (was the cause of much creative swearing this morning)

The really really awesome thing about this shawl (Perfect Pie. I like pie. I'm not sure if I like this shawl. But I like pie. Especially chocolate pie. Mmm. Pie. You know what I could really go for right now? One of my mom's peach pies. I like peach pie. With cinnamon. And really good Georgia peaches. Peaches are good. And peach ice cream. Also the kind my mom used to make. Yum.) is that it goes very quickly when you start knitting on it. (see. I'm thinking positively!)

Also, I am doing it wrong. I just looked up the pattern's errata, and apparently when it says M1, you're supposed to knit it through the back loop. (it was printed knit through the front loop in the book)

So. I guess I'm just going to continue to do it wrong. I think that it looks pretty regardless of the fact that I'm not following the corrected instructions, and it doesn't seem to be affecting the fabric at all.

(it's not supposed to look like this)

You know what somebody should make? A mohair yarn that is bound with a dissolveable binding material so that it isn't fuzzy as hell when you're knitting with it, but after you block it, it gets all fuzztastic and stuff. That would be cool. There are dissolveable stitches right now used in medicine. So why not dissolveable yarn binders? I should write Clara Parkes. I bet she'd know who to talk to about this one. (Clara Parkes is also another really awesome knitterly type person from Maine)

Monday, August 23, 2010


My knitting isn't really setting me on fire right now.

Here's the Perfect Pie Shawl:

It is fuzzy. And a little dull to knit. But I think it'll be pretty.

The Lettuce Cardigan is coming along, but it just isn't an interesting knit. Cute, cute sweater. Boring, boring knit.

. . .

This weekend, Bruce, Georgia and I (along with a few friends) went to Grimaldi's Pizza in Brooklyn (a darned good pie, but I still prefer Totonnos in Coney Island. However Grimaldi's has some of the best customer service ever), got carryout and ate it in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Here is a picture of the bridge:

And there was poetry around the railing at the waterfront, so I got a picture of my favorite word from it:

And a shot of lower Manhattan from the park:

Saturday, August 21, 2010

As Promised, the Peace Fleece Review

Review of Peace Fleece DK weight

30% Mohair, 70% Wool
350 yards per 4oz skein



It is a crunchy texture, which I love. It is slightly less crunchy than Noro Kureyon, but I think that part of the reason why is due to what ever spinning oil they use. There is a fair bit of hay and other vegetative material in the yarn, but fairly easy to pull out.

In the hank, the yarn felt pretty stiff, but it softened as I wound it into cakes, and softened further as I knitted with it. Post blocking, it softened up even more, and according to Veronik Avery, it will get softer as you wear it, which is totally believable. Right now it is a little rough against my bare skin, but not too bad. I will not be able to wear this against the skin on my neck (I have notoriously sensitive skin), but as I write this I'm leaning against the shawl with my bare arms and am not feeling itchy at all.



One of the downsides of this yarn is that there are only eight colors available in the DK weight. There are some truly gorgeous colors in the worsted weight which was slightly disappointing to me when I was choosing colors for the travel shawl.

That said, the color of the yarn that I chose, Father's Gray, is really gorgeous. While it looks solidly charcoal gray in the photos, as I was winding I discovered flecks of white, green, blue and purple.


Stitch Definition

Due to the mohair content of this yarn, stitches aren't terribly well defined, which is a bonus for folks such as myself who are highly imperfect and irregular knitters. (I guess I probably shouldn't qualify that sentence with knitters... heh) However, the stitch definition is considerably better than I expected.

The yarn is a little bit hairy, but not as bad as what I thought it was going to be, we'll see how it wears.


Also, the yarn is "sticky" enough so that you can rip back stitches without worrying about dropping them, however it is VASTLY easier to rip back than 100% mohair. I didn't find this yarn to be splitty at all, but then again I was using pretty sharp metal needles.

I'm not sure how well this yarn would felt, mostly because I've never actually felted a project before. I can tell you that it won't felt as quickly as Malabrigo does (as that yarn has actually felted WHILE I've been knitting with it). Somebody else who is more experienced with this sort of thing can opine in the comments.


I loved this yarn. I really enjoyed knitting with it, and loved the texture too, and will definitely use it again for another project. I just need to find the right one. (I'm also tempted to buy some more and knit another Travel Shawl in a different color)

The value is pretty fantastic at $8.25 for 350 yards, and the story of the yarn is really cool. (Click link for story). However, it smells pretty strongly of spinning oil and sheep, so keep that in mind if you have sensitivities.

Personally, I would not use this yarn for a garment that will be work next to the skin of my neck (no scarves, turtlenecks, cowls, gaiters, etc), but then as I mentioned above, I have quite sensitive skin. I wouldn't use this yarn for a child's garment either.

I think Veronik Avery did a fantastic job designing a shawl in this yarn, and the pattern suits it perfectly. I think a sweater or a jacket would be fantastic made from it would be lovely, and would likely hide any animal fur that collected on it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More Travel Shawl Photos

A shot of the full thing, folded in half, on my lovely, but rather small and squirmy model:

A rather poor shot of it in the window (I can't get this one closed without Bruce's help, and he's not home at the moment), but at least it gives an idea of how the pattern moves:

That's about as much as I have energy for. The Shawl really deserves better photos. I think it is probably the nicest thing I've made thus far.

I'll post a review of the Peace Fleece when I'm feeling better.

As to how I'll wear it? Probably folded in half so its more triangular (see first photo) over a sweater for warmth (with jeans or a skirt). This sucker is VERY warm. Supposedly some folks wear shawls like this over wool winter coats, which might look nice also. Might try that as well.

Wearing other shawls? Usually bunched up around my neck in a desperate attempt to keep out NYC winds.

On the needles? The Perfect Pie Shawl a couple posts down (the green one). Started it last night. I'm really not sure how I feel about mohair. I kind of feel like shaving the shawl already, and I haven't gotten close to finishing it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Travel Shawl: Finished!

I forewent water, food, conversation, and sanity last night and finished up the Travel Shawl.

Yarn: Peace Fleece DK, Father's Gray, approximately 900 yards (I have about 100 yards left)
Needle: 7 US - 4.5mm
Final Blocked Size: 42 inches square

Honestly, I could block the shawl more aggressively (it probably needs to be blocked more aggressively, but I don't have the means to do it right now) and have it grow another two to three inches. However, 42 inches square is pretty big. Pre-blocked it was about 32 inches across. I used a stretchy cast-off so that I could eventually block it all to hell if I wanted to.

The cat helped immeasurably with the blocking process. She likes the shawl. She thinks the yarn smells appropriately sheepy, I believe.

sorry about the weird photos, and the closeups. Don't really have enough room in the apartment to photograph it in its entirety, and the light is strange in here in the morning.

also, I'm half asleep and haven't had any coffee yet.

By George, She's Got It!

This morning I took my entire stash out (which honestly, is not that big), laid it on our bed and brainstormed. (yes, I was totally playing hooky from writing about energy. Sigh. My boss (me) is going to be so ticked when she finds out.)

This is what I came up with:

The Perfect Pie Shawl by Veronik Avery, from the book Weekend Knitting:

(took my own picture of the book and cropped it, thank you very much powers that be)

Made from this:

Premier Mohair, 60% Mohair, 40% acrylic. The acrylic makes it so much softer than most of the other mohair yarn I've touched. It was in my stash. I have approximately 10,000 yards of it, which I purchased for a whopping $9 US. All this time I thought the yarn was a muddy brown shade, because I'd only been looking at it in artificial light. So I matched it with a hot pink yarn for the rickrack lace edging (which would have been pretty cool), however when I put it in natural light to photograph it, it's much more bluey-purpley-gray that I had expected and the hot pink looked all wrong. So I'll have to figure out what color to use. The good news is that it can wait until the shawl is complete, so I can get a really good idea of how the colors will fall in the shawl.

And yes, this will be my second Veronik Avery shawl this month. I'm noticing a theme.

The cool thing about the Perfect Pie is that it has a very interesting construction technique (short row shaping throughout) and looks like it'll go pretty quickly. The rick rack lace is attached in a pretty cool way as well, so I think this project will keep me entertained from beginning to end. Plus I've never knitted with mohair before (well, sorta. The Travel Shawl is with a mohair blend) so this should be an interesting experience.

Bruce, I promise I am going to knit you a bright scarf for this winter. And another sweater. Really. However both of these projects will require yarn purchases and you accompanying me to a yarn store (or at least looking at a catalog with me) so we need to schedule that in.

Or we can wait until Rhinebeck and you can pick out some super cool yarns from the trade show. I will stand in line for them while you get maple syrup cotton candy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ma! I'm boooooooooooored...

For the past few days (well, two weeks, if truth be told) I've been having a repeat of my horrible stomach issues from earlier this year. I'd been without them for a few months, and I think I'd talked myself out of how bad they actually were.

They were bad. This most recent batch has been an awful reminder of just how bad these issues were.

This sucker is going to be way bigger than the estimated 37 inches across.

ANYWAY, self-pity aside, I've been knitting like a fiend in an attempt to distract myself from the aforementioned issues.

So, the good news:

  1. I lost five pounds. I would love to attribute this to knitting, but I rather suspect it is from not eating. Go figure. I mean really, who knew that eliminating three meals from your day would cause such significant weight loss? (that was sarcasm)
  2. Almost finished the Travel Shawl.
  3. I have made considerable progress on the Lettuce. Still looks like a big orange blob though.
  4. Am feeling better today. I have hope that it will last.
look! Pretty lace edging. That you can sort of see. Sorry. It's still an amorphous blob.

The bad news:
  1. I'm now in the incredibly boring garter stitch edge of the Travel Shawl. It's really boring.
  2. The Lettuce is in stockinette stitch. The ENTIRE THING. It is stockinette. This is really boring.
  3. I'm bored.
What next? I need a new project (something that I don't need to buy yarn for). Any suggestions?

Yes, thank you, I'm glad that you've psychically memorized my entire stash and can then pull patterns out of thin air for me. That's awesome.

Monday, August 16, 2010


The lovely blogger Caffeine Girl mentioned the acronym/concept GAAK (Growth As A Knitter) on her blog earlier this year. It was in relation to one of her projects, which I think was a Cookie A pattern for socks.

I can say with absolute certainty that I have definitely experienced GAAK on the Travel Shawl. This is the first lace project where the chart and the rows actually made sense to me. On every other lace project I've completed, I knitted on blind faith, with absolutely no clue where it was going other than a picture of somebody else's finished project.


With the Travel Shawl it has been almost as if I've been studying a foreign language for a full two years and am suddenly able to understand it. I am slightly amazed at how well I understand this one. I get why the stitches go where they do, and how they line up and what the finished product is going to look like. I didn't even have any problem when the lace pattern changed at the border.

I'm quite impressed with myself.

The Lettuce Cardigan is coming along nicely. It's still orange. Still looks completely shapeless - all bunched up on the needles. I will put the sleeve stitches on holders either today or tomorrow. Life is good.

And now for Georgia at Lincoln Center. I have titled the series White, Black and 1,000 Shades of Pink:

She thought that lying down on the bench while I took her photo was about the funniest thing EVER. (If you can't already tell from her photo)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Morning

Quiet family moment:

Carefully arranged bath toys:

Knitting that has turned into an amorphous blob:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tell me why...

Why aren't we friends on Ravelry? Here is a link to who I am: MissVirginia.

Look, pretty projects! (if I do say so myself.)

I'd love to see everybody else's projects (and blogs), and I'm friends with a few of my blog buddies. But of course, I can't be friends with you on Ravelry if you don't comment, and I don't know who you are.

I get hits from all over the world, but only a few comments. Ahem.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Twist My Arm

Ok, fine, I'll write about which patterns I want to knit from New England Knits.

As you all know, it is SUCH a hardship for me to have to write about knitting. Heh.

Anyway, these are the top five patterns that I want to knit from the book:

(yes, all photos are borrowed from Ravelry. They're from the book. Here is a link to purchase the book on the interweave site, which will hopefully mollify them if they get pissed that I'm stealing their photos to promote their book FOR FREE, mind you. Admittedly I am promoting their book without their knowledge or permission, hee hee.)

Ok, first up is the Hamptons Cardigan. It's knitted flat in one piece, from the back to the front, and the construction looks super cool. (You sew up the sleeve seams at the end of the knitting, and the collar and cuffs are added later. Though honestly, I don't see why you can't add the cuffs as you're knitting the rest of thing.)

The Salem Hooded Jacket, which I absolutely adore. I'm not really wild about the ribbony bits at the top, but otherwise this thing looks awesome. It has a hood (sweet!) and built in pockets (super sweet!). The Rav notes say that it is "fitted with negative ease" on the model (meaning that the model is too big for the sample size that was knitted) which is why I think the sleeves look a few inches short on her.

The Cranston Coat, which I think is the only thing with bobbles that I've ever really loved:

The Middlefield Pullover, which looks comfy and cute. I'm more of a cardigan person (really obsessed with them), but I like the ribbing on this, and adore the buttons on the shoulder.

The Greenfield Cardigan. Love the garter stitch and love the leaves at the bottom. Will probably make full-length sleeves though.

And... I just counted. Out of 25 patterns in this book, there are only two that I don't love. TWO. The rest of them are just fantastic. Can't wait to get started on them.

yes, Bruce, I will be knitting you a sweater. And another scarf or two. I promise.