29 January 2007

I am a sweater loser

Samus has gone to the frog pond. I finally got around to seaming it this past weekend. I sewed on the first sleeve and tried it on. The sweater seemed awfully large, but I thought maybe it would look okay once I had the second sleeve attached. No such luck. It's GINORMOUS. What the hell was I thinking? I live in this body 24/7; you'd think I'd have an idea of my size by now. My gauge was off, but I decided to make a larger size to compensate. Doing so was not necessarily a bad idea. The nearly-finished product ended up the size I expected it to be. I just wasn't prepared for how large that size would look on me. I guess if it were 1982 and shoulder pads were in vogue, I'd be right on the money with the size. I would seriously have to have massive shoulders for the sweater to look decent.

9 months of work wasted. Damn. I'm just going to put it away for a while and contemplate frogging it later. Maybe in a few months I'll pick it up and start working on it again. I just hope the yarn will hold up to being unraveled and reknitted.


On a lighter note, I've joined the Knitty Coffeeshop Secret Pal, round 8. My downstream SP lives outside the country, so I have to think of things to send her weeks in advance of when I want her to receive them. I'm hoping none of my packages takes more than a week to get to her, but you never know what to expect with the post office. My upstream SP claimed me last week. I'm so excited! Gifts! In the mail! This will make the whole yarn diet thing much easier to stick to. I'll post updates when I have them.

24 January 2007

Samus progress

I'm nearly finished with my pink Samus. My plan is to have it finished by the first weekend in February. I finished the second sleeve last night and blocked it after George W. finished blowing hot air.

See? Knitting away on the sleeve.
Abbey is tuckered out from helping.

I noticed a mistake in the cabling. Can you find it?
No big deal. There are several in the cables on the body of the sweater. I don't think anyone will notice.

There's the finished body.

Here we are, happily blocking.

Oh my. What's that on the left side of the sweater?
Um. Uh. It looks like 3 bound off stitches on what's supposed to be a straight edge. WHAT?!?

Yes, I am indeed a moron. I bound off three stitches in the middle of the left edge of the left side. Making a non-straight edge. That I have to frog. And reknit. 40-ish rows. Damn. That'll set me back a couple of days.

On the upside, I found some row markers that I really like. They are these little brass safety pins that don't have the loop of wire at the bent end of the pin.
They work so much better than a piece of waste yarn, which is my previous solution to the "how to keep track of the number of rows" problem.

19 January 2007

Damn weather

Shane and I didn't end up going out of town for the weekend. We can't seem to cut a break with the weather. We both took this week off so that we could go to my aunt Jean's house in Missouri last weekend and then have the week to relax at home. There was freezing rain, sleet and snow last weekend here and in Missouri, so we postponed the trip to this weekend. On Wednesday evening, I called Jean to make sure all was well to start driving out there the next day. No. Bad weather on the way again. It's supposed to start snowing here on Saturday afternoon and won't stop until Sunday morning. She said they'd be getting more ice as well as snow. I didn't want to risk it, so I said we'd just plan on visiting in the spring. I felt bad. She was really looking forward to our visit. I haven't been down there in over 2 years, and Shane has never been. I was looking forward to seeing Chris and Tina and the kids, who I haven't seen in over 7 years. Oh, well. Not much to do when Old Man Winter shows up on your doorstep. Damn weather.

Instead, Shane suggested that we drive up to Marysville see his mom's grave. At first, I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of being in the car for 3 hours each way, but when I thought about it, I realized that I needed to take advantage of his suggestion before he changed his mind. See, I've been trying to get him to visit his mom's grave since he and I started dating, but he hasn't wanted to. I was really glad that he finally wanted to go.

On the drive there, I found out that it's been probably 6 years since he's been there. Marysville is where his mom grew up, and where other family members are buried, like his grandparents and a couple of uncles. His father grew up in Frankfort, which is pretty close to Marysville. His mother's family's farm is located somewhere in between. Our first stop on the way up there was the family farm. Here's the farm house where his grandparents used to live. His uncle Dale lives there now with his family.

Here is the old barn that is near the house.

When we turned the corner onto the road where the farmhouse sits, Shane said that looking left and right as far as the eye could see was the land that his mom's family owned.

Shane spent summers as a child on the farm. A lot of his growing up was done there. As we passed by the Foley farmhouse, I asked if he wanted to stop and he said no. After his mom died, he lost touch with all of his mom's family. He didn't have any "bad blood"-type reason for it, so it kinda surprised me that he hasn't spoken to any of them in many years. I'm thinking I may have to do something about that, but I haven't decided what yet.

Anyway, on we drove to Marysville to the small Catholic cemetery where his mother is buried. She died when he was 20 years old, from complications from diabetes.

I found this old picture of her from high school.

Looking at his grandparents' grave, I realized they had been married 70 years when his grandfather died.
70 years! Shane and I would have to live to be over 100 to be married that long. I asked him what kind of marriage they had, if they loved each other, and he said yes. How cool is that? Especially since some quick math told us that his grandmother was 17 and 6-months pregnant when they were married.

It was a pretty good road trip. In general, I hate being in the car for more than an hour, but this was a nice drive. I had never been to that part of the state before, so it was nice to see it. It was also nice to hear stories from Shane of his childhood. He's a man of few words and doesn't talk about it much. I hope we can up again in the spring and take Brady.

17 January 2007

Guilty Pleasure

I have a confession to make.

I love American Idol. I can't really explain it, except that maybe the singer in me wishes I could do something like that. Otherwise, it's just a guilty pleasure. And the best thing is, Shane likes it too!

I'm off to Missouri for the weekend. I'll post about my current projects' progress when I get back.

15 January 2007

Knit from my stash 2007

To go along with my resolution to knit only things that are currently on the needles for the month of January, I have joined a knit-a-long to bust my yarn stash this year. Here are the rules and exceptions:

1) Knit only stash yarn from 1/1/07 to 9/30/07. The ending date is earlier than the end of the year presumably because knitters always have lots of gifts to knit for Christmas which would require yarn purchases.

2) Knitting accessories (tapestry needles, stitch markers, etc.) and books do not count.

3) Travel purchases are allowed. These are purchases made at yarn shops more than 100 miles from my home. This allows for shopping at yarn shops while I'm traveling. Not that I travel all that often, but when I do, I like to visit "foreign" stores.

4) I have in mind a sweater I want to make for a certain family member for Christmas this year. Said sweater will require color work that I am not experienced in. I am allowed to buy yarn for this project earlier than the September cutoff so that I may start on it over the summer.

5) I have a secret Knitty pal for the next three months. Should I choose to knit her something, I am allowed to buy yarn for it.

That's it. I don't think it'll be too hard to stick to this one. It just means I'm not allowed in Yarn Barn anymore.

11 January 2007

That Song

Ever become obsessed with a song for no apparent reason? Maybe I’m alone in that insanity. Last weekend I was sitting in the living room knitting, as usual, and looking for something to watch on the boob. My weekend tv watching is almost exclusively movies, as there are no interesting series to watch. We have digital cable and several of the movie channels, so I always have a plethora from which to choose. I have only one rule: If I haven’t seen it before, I can only watch it from the beginning. No watching movies after they’ve already started, if they're not personal re-runs. Anyway, I’m surfing around on Saturday and come across A Walk to Remember. I’ve seen it before, but anything else promising that I hadn’t seen had already started. This is one of those movies that I was initially reluctant to see because of the teen idol factor and my general loathing of all things teeny-bopperish. I can’t remember why I ended up watching it the first time, but upon discovering that it was showing again, I remember thinking, “This has that song in it. I’d like to hear it again.” Yes, indeed, I decided to watch a movie just to hear a particular song. Said song is "Only Hope", sung by Mandy Moore, but written by Switchfoot. At its core, it's a Christian song, but in the context of this movie, it’s a sappy love song. For some reason, it stayed in my mind. Not in the drive-you-to-distraction way that "Yellow Submarine" gets stuck in your head, but in a good way. I’m not sure what it is that I like about it. Mandy Moore has a very clear and beautiful voice, and I suppose that the singer in me envies that sound just a little. I’m also attracted to the words—the idea that a person can have that kind of love for another person. I’ve always been sappy like that. I waited my whole life to find the person I’m meant to be with, and although I’ve found him, I still get mushy inside when I hear love songs or see romantic movies. I appreciate more than Shane knows how fortunate we both are for what we have.

I digress. After watching the movie again, and deciding that I had to own the song, I found it on iTunes and a-downloadin’ I went. I’ve listened to the song sufficiently now to have gotten it out of my system. I feel better now.

...until the next song comes along; and one always does.

08 January 2007

Tasty Yarn Feast

As I mentioned before, I bought quite a haul at Yarn Barn's annual sale a couple of weeks ago. I won't say how much I spent, but I definitely cannot justify anymore yarn purchases for at least the next 4 months. I finally got around to photographing the jumbo lot of it.

First, we have Lamb's Pride Worsted.
There are 10 skeins of Sable and one skein of Aztec Turquoise (I think--I don't have the receipt sitting in front of me right now so I'm guessing on the colors). My plan is to make a sweater with the trim in turquoise. I love the combo of brown and turquoise.

Next, there are 2 skeins of Kidsilk Haze in Hurricane.
It's a lovely deep blue, almost dark grey. I had a really hard time not buying the Candy Girl or Jelly. I've been drawn to dark pinks and bright lime colors recently. I've never worked with this yarn before, but I hear nothing but raves about it, so I thought that since it was on sale, I'd give it a try. I think I've found a lacy scarf pattern that I'd like to use it for.

Third, fourth and fifth are 3 colors and 6 skeins of Koigu KPPPM.
I don't know specifically which numbers these colors are. This is another yarn I have never used before. I've been wanting to try it for socks, but I already have so much sock yarn that it took a sale for me to be able to justify buying any to try. I fondle it every time I'm in Yarn Barn. They don't have a very big selection, but I managed to find a few colors that I think will knit up nicely.

Next, 2 skeins of Plymouth Encore Worsted in Navy.
I promised Kevin a pair of socks last February for his birthday. At the time, I had purchased some Lion Brand Wool Ease Worsted in navy, which is the same yarn I used for the first pair that I made him. I was really busy knitting my wedding shawl at the time of his birthday, so I wasn't able to actually start the knitting until after the wedding. Once I started, though, I found that I was dreading working on them. After starting over a hundred times, I decided that the problem was the yarn. It's crap and I don't like working with it. I would have preferred to use actual sock yarn, but he really wanted some thick socks, so worsted would have to do. I really like working with Encore, so I decided to put away the Wool Ease and buy some Encore. These 2 skeins are for the socks. I'm working on them now and hope to have them finished by his birthday this year (in another 3 weeks).

And, finally, there is 1 skein of something that I can't remember the name of.
I think it's called "Heaven", but I can't remember the company name. I'll have to look at the label tonight. I know what you're thinking, "Gawd, that's awfully bright green." It is, and it's lovely. This is 3100yds of laceweight in a color called Pistachio. Every time I am in Yarn Barn, this yarn calls to me. It's wool and tencel. It must be the tencel that makes it shiny because boy does it shine! I haven't been able to justify the cost before now--but on sale! I'm thinking a lace shawl in a leafy pattern. That kind of green just screams to be made into something springy.

Of course, my tiny baby kitty was there to help...

07 January 2007

San Antonio

I left Friday morning at 6:30 for the airport. Trip to San Antonio for work. Shane drove Kerry and me to the airport; we flew Midwest. Rhett flew a separate airline and met us in SA. The flight down was uneventful. I read a book instead of knitting, which I almost never do. I've been feeling a little disconnected to my literary past, which I'll expound upon some other time, so although I had a project with me, I decided to read instead.

The trip itself went well. The purpose was to go to one my client's conferences so that we could meet with the editors of two of my journals. At least, that was the purpose for me. Kerry being the publisher, and Rhett being the ad manager, they had slightly different goals. In the end, we all accomplished what needed to be accomplished. I was glad the day was over when we finally got back to the hotel after 9pm. Very long day. Thankfully, there were no meetings planned for Saturday morning. Just the flight home. Jeans all the way baby! I hate dressing up, particularly when I have to wear pantyhose.

I took some pictures of the hotel with my phone (which accounts for the lack of quality--apologies). It was really nice. The only reason we ended up staying there was because the hotel where the meeting was taking place was full. I think if I ever go back to SA, I'll definitely stay in this place, The Fairmount Hotel. It's a couple of blocks from the River Walk, which is where we ate lunch and dinner Friday.

San Antonio room
Here's a shot of my room. Each room is individually decorated. Sorry for the lighting; there wasn't much to be had except three small lamps. The curtains on the left cover a door to a terrace...
San Antonio balcony view
The balcony looked over a courtyard.

Here's my room key:
San Antonio key
The last time I stayed in a hotel where you got an actual key was years ago in San Francisco. I just loved the giant tassel attached to it. No losing that one in my bag.

And, finally, say hello to Luke:
San Antonio Luke
Don't worry, he's not dead. Just sleeping. This is the hotel dog. Very large and very sweet. I spotted him when we were checking in and we bonded shortly thereafter. He loves to have his tummy rubbed. Sigh. I miss having a dog.

03 January 2007

The List

Thinking back, I’m pretty sure I have never made a new year’s resolution. It always seemed trite to me to make a list of things that I need to do, where my only motivation to complete the items on the list is the fact that the year has just begun. Anything worth doing is worth doing no matter the date. Motivation should not come from “tradition”.

Having said that, I decided to make a list of resolutions this year. I have a list of things in my mind that need to be accomplished this year, and the timing is right for them to be called “resolutions”. Here goes…

1. Lose weight. I know, I know. Everyone’s new year’s resolution is to lose weight. On Sunday, while perusing the local newspaper and all of the Sunday flyers from the various retailers throughout town, I was struck with how many of the fliers had sales on items relating to weight loss: elliptical machines, treadmills, exercise bicycles, yoga mats, stability balls, dumbbells, workout clothing, running/cross-training shoes, low-fat foods, low-cal foods, weight loss supplements… It was dizzying. Retailers definitely have it figured out that millions of people want to lose weight after the holidays (or do they? maybe the retailers are trying to trick consumers into thinking they need to lose weight so that they’ll buy all the weight loss “tools”). I am one of the masses this year. I have not been happy with my weight for years, but I think I’ve finally reached the point where I’m tired of it and ready to do something about it. Now comes the hard part--to figure out a weight loss plan. Stay tuned.

2. Stick to the budget that I created 6 months ago. Shane and I spend way too much and don’t save enough (save?? what’s that??). We eat out too much, mostly because I don’t feel like cooking. He spends too much on beer. And, he spends too much on Brady. Spoiling the boy by buying him shit every week isn’t doing him any good. So, I have told Shane that he has only a certain amount of money he can spend each week on beer, coffee, cigarettes, and Wednesdays with Brady. I have to keep myself on budget regarding eating out and buying yarn. I MUST cook at least 3 times a week, eat lunch at my desk 3 times a week, and not buy anymore yarn for another few months.

3. Knit from my stash until April 1st. After the spree that I went on last week at Yarn Barn's annual sale (pictures of my insanity to come), I can’t really afford to buy anymore yarn for several months. I have 3 70-qt. plastic totes that are full-to-bursting with yarn that I have ear-marked for future projects. Time to start actually making those projects.

4. Do not start any new projects for the month of January. I have, let’s see… hmmmm… 6 projects currently on the needles. I will work on just those projects this month, and not start anything new until 1 February. It shouldn’t be too hard to stick to this one. I have a sweater that I need to fix and then finish, and putting myself on this restriction means that I actually might be able to wear the thing this winter.

5. Read the newspaper everyday. I have had a subscription to the Lawrence Journal [Urinal] World for 3 years, and I almost never read it. I really like knowing what’s going on in town, and the paper is the perfect source for local news (even if it is conservatively-biased). I’m just lazy. Well, no more. From now on, I will at least skim through the whole paper each day.

6. Recycle. My father has an interesting, and somewhat odd, view of recycling, specifically cans: “If you recycle cans, then you’re taking away the livelihood of homeless people.” This notion isn’t as absurd to me as it sounds. During my poor college days, I lived in an apartment outside of which there was a trash dumpster about 10 feet from my front door. There was a homeless man who lived in his VW Beetle who frequently parked in the parking lot and rummaged through the dumpster. I often would put my spent cans in one bag on top of the trash in the dumpster so that he could easily find them. Anyway, as a rule, I don’t like to recycle. I’ve never produced enough recyclable material in my household to warrant collecting it and making a special trip the Walmart Recycle Center to dump it. Things have changed in my house over the last 2 years. Between Shane and me, we produce enough can and glass bottle trash to fill the Grand Canyon. Not to mention the newspapers. I guess I’ve been feeling a little guilty about the trash this household creates. I’m not going to be overzealous about it, like Grandma (who will dig through a full trash can to find the cans and bottles that we “careless” people throw away), but I will spend a little effort helping our little green earth.

There you have it—Ye Olde New Year’s Resolution List. We’ll see where we are in a few months. Wish me luck!

02 January 2007

The Sweater

At about noon yesterday, The Sweater was finally finished. I used the exact yarn called for in the pattern, Knit Picks Andean Silk, in Hollyberry. Both my stitch gauge and row gauge were off in the US6 needles, so I went up to US8. I still couldn't get gauge, but decided to dive in anyway. I made the XXL size, in an attempt to compensate for the gauge problems, but that turned out to be a bad decision. The finished object is HUGE. Actually, the body is not too bad--larger than it should be, but still comfortable. However, the sleeves are way too long and too wide. I probably should have taken Christy's measurements before beginning, but that would have spoiled the surprise.

Anyway, here are some pics:

Back and sides blocking.

Closeup of pattern on the sides. Despite my careful counting, the left side ended up a bit shorter than the right side. It's not noticeable as long as she wears it buttoned up.

I left one of my row markers (aka piece of white yarn) in accidentally when I washed the left side. It turned pink, which I just realized you can't see very well in the picture. The yarn bled a lot as I was knitting. It colored my fingernails and my wood cable needle.

Sleeves blocking. Those are the side pieces on the left. They were dry by the time I started blocking the sleeves. This is Christmas Eve. I realized Christmas day that the sleeve caps were too short--by an inch. I ended up having to rip out both of them and reknit.

And here it is finished. We had Christmas with Kevin and Christy on New Year's, so I had an extra week to finish it (hence the reason it wasn't completed until yesterday).

Closeup of the buttons, which are not actually attached in the picture. I sewed them on the next day.

Here's the sweater, packaged and ready to wrap. I figure I spent so much time knitting the thing, I should spend some time on the presentation. Here's the inside of the card...

Sorry for the blur. I included an extra button on the left and a length of yarn on the right. The left says, "Wool, Alpaca and Silk. Hand wash only. Dry flat." and the right says, "Handknitted for you! by Beverly"

I'm glad it's finished. Christy seemed to really like it. The rest of the family was amazed that I had knitted the whole thing myself. In hindsight, I would have taken Christy's measurements first, and I would have used smaller needles and adjusted the pattern accordingly. The alpaca and silk in that yarn made it horribly inelastic and, I think, contributed to the largeness of the final product. Oh well. Live and learn.

On to bigger and (hopefully) better things.