Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Miscellany

In the Planning-Way-Ahead department, Worldwide Knit in Public Day is Saturday, June 13 this year. (On an unrelated note, both February and March have Friday the 13ths this year.) There's a lovely park at the end of Georgetown - Francis Scott Key Memorial, next to the Key Bridge (go figure) - I think I'll see about hosting something either there, or in the lovely new park along the river.

Also, cool gadget of the week: The TSA-approved Knit Kit!

How cool is that???
Also, did you know that wool fringe on a wool scarf can get pretty full of static electricity? Never having had a wool fringe before, I was unaware... but now I know.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Childhood Regressions

When I was little, I had those magnetic letters that everyone has on their fridge. I had a magnet board for them; they never went on the fridge. Not allowed. (My dad had to deal with acronyms all day; I figure he didn't want to come home to be confronted with a bunch of accidental reminders of work when he went to get a snack.) Anyway, this past weekend, my husband helped me track down a set at Toys-R-Us, and they're now all over the house (all our interior doors are metal), just because they can be.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Almost a Snow Day, Part II

Last night, my mom surprised me with something she'd picked up at a book sale:

Quilts Galore! by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes

I was really, really hoping today would be a Snow Day, so I could stay home and read it - but the Federal government rarely closes down, so it just took an extra two hours to get to work. I was almost an hour late - despite leaving two hours early:

approaching this bus stop, just before 5:30 a.m.
It's a half-hour walk in ice like this!

Luckily, I know the sun will be back soon. Until then, look at this pretty picture of balloons that were trapped in a tree on January 21st, the day after the Inauguration:

Still wish I could've stayed home and read the quilting book.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Almost a Snow Day

A steady snow is coating the area. In DC, this means the city, over the day, will slowly come to a shuddering halt as 1 to 2 inches of snow hit the streets. (Anyone north or west of here is allowed to laugh, especially anyone in Canada, Montana, or upstate New York.) I'm definitely glad I have my new scarf all knitted. Its warmth around my neck (wrapped double, even!) was all that kept the chill off this morning - and it was chilly. It's been dry-cold most of the winter, and dry-cold doesn't seep into the bones the way wet-cold does. And we have both wet and cold, in abundance.

Here's the view over the canal on the way in today:

And there was a face in the ice-flow from one of the weep-holes in the wall of our building:

It's definitely a hot-chocolate sort of day, and if I had my druthers, I'd be sitting at a small table next to my back window, looking at a lovely winter scene out my window. (This would involve suddenly brush-clearing and repairing the patio and surrounding fence, washing the back window, vacuuming out the back-room heater, moving furniture around and other things that aren't going to happen, but it's a nice daydream.)

Definitely a hot-choclate day. Luckily, the firm where I work understands the importance of hot chocolate, and keeps some for general consumption, just in case. I may have to go get another cup.

It's going to be very hard to come back to work after lunch. I plan to barricade myself in the Big Comfy Chair in the library and work on the project I have with me today... and I'm not going to want to de-chair and stop stitching!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Frogging a Dragon

Had to clean out the stash room this weekend so I could reach (a) my blocking board, in the vain hope I'd actually block my TKGA swatches (I didn't) and (b) decide once and for all if I was frogging the Dragon Illusion Blanket (I did). See?

Approximately 110 rows in...
Also found my NaNoWriMo Tote Bag

You can just see the back of the wing here

And back in its pre-draconic state...

Also managed to get all the stuff that flowed out of the craft room into the front room . . .

. . . back into the craft room, only now it's in stacked-clear-boxes-on-wheels, which makes getting things in and out of the craft room much easier, as I can just shift stacks of stuff-on-wheels out of the way quickly and efficiently. I see more stacked-clear-boxes-on-wheels if this system is still working for me in six months.

Friday, January 23, 2009

So, about all those things I started...

First, I found a link to National Knitting Week UK via Google Images that's just picture after picture after picture of yarn. Yarn pr0n!

I've been thinking about the "UFO Count" thing. Yes, this is not unusual. I'm a bit obsessed. Not quite enough to just take the bit in my teeth and finish one thing, then the next, then the next, but... hey, stop giggling! Anyway, I was thinking. What if I started a rotation that rotated? I mean, I've tried the "just do this until it's done" - and I invariably get bored. (Or, on the odd occasion, am completely floored that I finish something in a normal-person amount of time. Although this has been happening with more frequency...)

So I've got some Big Projects, some Medium-sized projects, a few Little Projects, and about half a dozen I May Never Finish These But I'll Try If It Kills Me projects. I think, for 2009, rather than obsessing too much about the numbers, I'll try to finish
  1. One Really Huge Gargantuan Project;
  2. One Big Project;
  3. Six Medium-Sized Projects; and...
  4. ALL the small projects.
Now, before you either (a) fall off your chair laughing or (b) go into shock over "all the small projects", there are, in the Small Project works, all of one quilt, two knitting projects, two sets of ornaments (each over halfway done), and exactly four other cross-stitch projects. Nine tiny things. Nine tiny things that I could carry around with me and just plug away at until they're done - and switch out with a medium-sized thing when the boredom hits.

Now, of course, I'm not going to tell myself "Hey, Self - you can't start any new projects!" because every time I do that I end up doing really really well for about a month - and then crack under the strain and start a dozen things at once. (Just in case you were wondering how I'd gotten up to 217 UFOs at one point - it was because I was trying to cut back. This is also why there are No Forbidden Foods - I try to eat healthier overall, but if I tell myself I can't have something, it'll backfire.)

And let's face it, I'm gonna start something at some point: I have three balls of THIS . . .

Feza Cypress Mohair Color #113
No, I couldn't find a bigger photo online.
Yes, I forgot to take one of the three balls I own.

. . . and it's gonna be another Danica scarf and a matching hat - for next fall, since I just finished my new scarf for this winter. Yay!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Second FO of 2009

Hooray! I finished something! I was feeling much better yesterday, and I was really really close to finishing the brownish/purple-y ball of LL... so I stayed up until just after 11 p.m. not just knitting it, but using the rest of the blues-greens-pinks-browns ball of LL to make a fringe. I was even a good bunny, and did the cross-knotting, so no fringe will be escaping anytime soon. It's going to take some wear before the twist relaxes, but here it is first day out:

Exactly 2 skeins Lorna's Laces Worsted

It really does go nicely with my winter jacket, I think.

This photo was supposed to show the "real colors"... and it does, but hey - the other photos, which weren't in direct sunlight, weren't so bad!

Yes, it was a bit chilly taking this photo...

That's all the projects I started in 2009, already done. UFO count back to 56, which is what I started the year with! Right now, my carry-around is going to be a cross-stitch piece for a little while, just to see if I can knock off one or two of them for a change.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yes, Actually, I Was Sick...

Okay, so, was sick most of the weekend. Didn't knit. Didn't really do anything but sit on the couch, curled up under blankets (exhibit here. As I have nothing to report in the real world, I give you...

Photo of one of my favorite of my mom's cookie jars:

And, if my friend Christine hadn't made me The Most Beautiful Wedding Cake Ever, I might've tried to get something like this:

(My mom would've totally shot the idea down, but I would've tried. Then again, it's on Martha Stewart's magazine, so maybe I could've pushed it that way...)

Hopefully, something to report tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Day Without Fiber

All day yesterday, I did Nothing fiber-related. No knitting, crocheting, quilting, stitching, sewing... nothing. I can't remember the last time I had a fiber-free day. (Doing two loads of laundry doesn't count. Fiber=fun; laundry does not=fun.)

Very odd. Will likely make up for it today.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lorna's Laces Worsted: More Yarn Than You Think

Okay, last post until after the Inauguration (posting + dial-up = no fun), and not much to report.

One, the Sisterhood is starting a S&B on the last Saturday of each month, beginning in February. Yay! I've figured out how to take Saturday busses to get out there, if need be, or I can mooch a ride and send the spouse to Game Parlor. Yay!

Two, I'm trying to be good, food-wise. I've almost successfully eliminated fast food (I'm hoping Qdoba doesn't count, but I think it does.)... and then our Vending Guy puts these in the machine Tuesday:

I mean, what the heck??? Tasty Burger King Onion Ring-like Objects right where I can get to them at any time?? Grrrr. Not fair. ... On the other hand, I resisted until Thursday, and spent the rest of the day feeling nauseated, so the temptation is removed.

Three, two skeins of Lorna's Laces worsted? Makes a heck of a lot more than a little neckwarmer. I used exactly two skeins of Noro for my neckwarmer... for this now-it's-a-scarf, though, I think I've used at least half the yarn at this point. Here it is on Monday:

It's about a third again as long now, and there's STILL YARN LEFT. On the other hand, I'm going to have a lovely warm scarf that goes with my winter jacket.

Four, I finally got around to the cartooning thing. Knitting related, posted over here. The other goal is to have at least one cartoon a week in 2009.

Everyone have a good long weekend (if the Inauguration affects you), and stay warm!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yarn storage, and More Stuff I Want

Look - yarn storage problem solved. Container Store Yarn Solutions - ON WHEELS! Okay, so it would take about half a dozen of these in my house... if not more... but still. Yarn. ON WHEELS.

Oh, and remember the lovely tam at Urban Outfitters that I tried to show you? Well, it's available on the website - search for "beret women"... and it shows up best in red. (Red isn't available anymore at our local store. Go figure, it's the best color that won't immediately look dirty.) I'm thinking of getting some more sale SuperCashmere and making myself one...


Pretty cool, right? But the Acorn Tam is happening first. (Or Moss Stitch Beret. Whatever its correct name is.) Really.

Also ... has anyone read Terri Thayer's Quilting Mysteries? They're new, and since the about-as-old Crochet Mysteries have been fun, I've added them to my Amazon Wish List, as a reminder to track them down. Anyone?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Surprise Rabbiting

I really want to join the Hazel Knits 2009 Sock Club, but I just plain can't justify it, when I haven't finished the socks from my first sock club (Sanguine Gryphon's Fairy Tale Sock Club I) and the socks from the second (SG FTSC-II) are already shipping. But the yarn looks so pretty, and I've been really really good and have paid off the roof loan, and my credit card, and we're working on the other credit card... *sigh*. I'll think about it. But gosh, it's pretty yarn...

Gave my mom an early birthday present (because otherwise, she'd be expecting things) - her Peter Rabbit Bunny.

It was a big hit! She counted to make sure there were five little brass buttons on the jacket - thankfully, I'd hit the right number of little brass buttons purely by chance. ("It's authentic," she said with a nod.)

Discovered, much to my amusement, that my cousin's bff is a knitter, and has a knitblog with lots of fun knitting pictures (and other crafts, kinda like this one). If I'd found it without knowing the blogger had a connection to my cousin, I wouldn't think twice about adding the blog as a regular read, but I don't want to be seen as all prying or spying and stuff. Woe. One must consider the tender feelings of the younglings and not freak them out. (But it's nifty crafty stuff all the same.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Basics, Basics, Basics Begins

So, finished the swatches from Lesson One for the TKGA "Basics, Basics, Basics" course early on Sunday morning. This is what they looked like then:

Naturally, they have to be blocked before submitting. As I don't tend to do a lot of things that really require blocking (yeah, I do sweaters, but in acrylic, which doesn't block...), this is a challenge. Mind you, the biggest part of the challenge is figuring out where in Hades the craft room I put the blocking board.

In un-knitting-related news, if you're wondering how to work in your workout when you're chained to a desk, Ron Doyle can help you! He'll send you tweets for quick, one-minute workouts during working hours. Find him at twittercize on Twitter, or at his shiny new website, Getting little reminders to Do Something, Real Quick throughout the day? This could actually help!

Monday, January 12, 2009

More knitting than cross-stitch...

Got lots of knitting done over the weekend (more on that later in the week), and got some shopping done, too. Oddly enough, much of the shopping was knitting related. First, I got some cute little iSocks for my iPod. They're cabled up both sides, tiny, and cute. Variety of colors; right now, I'm liking the purple. See?

Also got some books, among them being the next in Monica Ferris's Needlecraft Mysteries, Thai Die, and the second of Betty Hechtman's Crochet Mysteries, Dead Men Don't Crochet

I've enjoyed the Needlecraft Mysteries back since they were Needlework Mysteries, and found "Hooked on Murder" in 2008, and enjoyed it. Naturally, I forgot to bring either of these books with me to read today!

I also found a post I made about five years ago on another journal, and discovered that it's still holding true. Here it is:

In times of economic upswing, there is Cross Stitch.
In times of economic downturn and borderline (if not flat-out) recession, there is knitting.

In the late 80's/early 90's, there was a tremendous upsurge in counted cross stitch and other actually-hold-a-pointy-tiny-needle arts (hardanger, free-form embroidery, samplers). Just getting the materials for some of these pieces can run well into the hundreds of dollars, they can take YEARS to finish, and then more hundreds of dollars to get them framed. People need both cash and time; this happens in economic upswings.

In the past few years, there have been several signs that the overall economy has tightened up - and that's if you look ONLY at the cross stitch industry.
  1. Every major metropolitan area has lost at least one dedicated cross stitch store; of the stores remaining, many have added knitting (the New Hot Thing).
  2. Many prominent cross stitch designers have gone out of business; the industry never paid much to start with, and people just aren't buying like they were in the late 90's.
  3. Cross stitch is still percived as the hobby of little old ladies; thanks to media coverage of Russel Crowe and Pamela Anderson (among other celebrities) knitting, knitting is Hip.
OK, that last one wasn't really an economic thing... but that, coupled with the economic downturn, is killing cross stitch. Lots of little would-be stitchers would much rather be cool and knit.

I still do both, but I've recently lost my main LNS (the owner passed away, but she had been worried about being able to stay open; people just weren't buying like they had been). The one that was going to replace it is on hold for the "foreseeable future"; the spike in gas (delivery) costs is hurting most small businesses, and beating the crap out of any business plan formulated before March. Of the three other "big" LNS's (local needlework stores) in my area, one has branched strongly into painted canvas (a REALLY expensive hobby, trust me!) and knitting, the second has added knitting to its painted canvas and cross stitch, and the third remains "pure"... because it's right next to a knitting store and a quilting store (I'm only allowed to go there twice a year, as it's very dangerous and I really don't have room for any more stuff... not that that will stop me, but I really shouldn't go...).

Someone was asking about the upswing in knitting; I think it's really about the downturn in cross stitch.

So there.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fashion Cookies

Taylor Rose, the adorable daughter of one of our partners, read "The Hundred Dresses" with her book club, so, for fun, she and her mom made 100 dress cookies, and she passed them out at the office (and probably everywhere else) today. Really cute kid, and a quite tasty cookie!

Plus, there are cute little star-cable tams on sale at Urban Outfitters. Wish the photo wasn't so blurry...!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First FO of 2009!

So, Danica. One, I love, love, love this yarn (Feza Iplik Cyprus Mohair - currently on backorder everywhere). It is so soft and fluffy and it actually keeps my hands warm as I knit it. In my slightly-above-freezing (exaggeration... slightly) house, this is a plus. This will NOT be a early-fall/late-spring scarf. This is a Scarf for Winter. Here it is on Friday, noonish:

Yes, it's just one strand of yarn.
Works great, doesn't it?

And on Saturday morning...
And on Sunday evening...

And on Monday morning...
And on Tuesday morning...

And on Wednesday morning...
And on Thursday morning...

And on The Recipient!!

The recipient wishes to withhold his identity until further notice.

But yay! First finish of 2009!!

Really good, soft fluffy happy yarn that just happens to fold itself into a beautiful scarf. I have been totally spoiled by my first foray into entrelac. That, and this is the PERFECT yarn for it. The color runs were long enough to make between two and three squares... and I just happened to hit the right place to start, since I got squares, not half-squares (which wouldn't look nearly as cool).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Deb, and her Sampler

Got Deb's sampler back from the framers:

The frame is actually silver (her colors were silver and blue), and there's a silver angle-cut foamcore mat inside both blues that's just lovely. The whole thing looks - dare I say it? - really professional. I did a GOOD job on this thing!!

Details you may not be able to see:
silk French knot buds among the green leaves
silvered-clear crystals strung to be "wrapped" around the "wreath"

I really want to put it in Woodlawn, but I really should give it to her. But not until I pull out the tripod and the GOOD lens, because this is one of my prettier finishes!

Now I just have to do the sampler for my friends M&M, my boss, and my kid sister... thankfully, I've got a pretty good pattern here!!

Oh, and I keep talking about this "Deb" person. Here's a photo of her modeling that cool hat and the VERY cool matching scarf she made (it's got handwarmer pockets on the end, it's reversible, it's just COOL):

I still refuse to believe she's a GRANDMOTHER!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Knitting Guild Association

Oh! Last Friday, I joined The Knitting Guild Association! Year membership (with issues of Cast On included), signed up for the "Basics, Basics, Basics!" course, and, because they were available, got pins. (I mean, really. I collect pins. Once I saw they had pins, I *had* to join.) My official Membership Card and Stuff was waiting in my inbox on Monday - yay!

In completely unrelated news, in case you were wondering what a quarter-ton of yarn looks like, here are 12 boxes of "One Pound" skeins. Each box holds 40 skeins. That's 480 pounds, which is just shy of 500 pounds. Quarter-ton of yarn.

(No, this is NOT in my house!!!)

Also, every been curious as to what, exactly, is in the center of a ball of perle cotton? Turns out, it's this:

My friend M is stitching a lovely hardanger altar cloth... and she's gone through at least one entire ball of white perle cotton. I've never done anything big enough to need that much... did I mention ALTAR CLOTH??

Monday, January 5, 2009

Needles of Joy

So, I did, in fact, get stuff for Christmas. And I did buy some yarn at the post-Christmas sales.

The Big Deal was the new Addi Turbo Clicks set. OMG, these are WONDERFUL!!! I'll totally be casting on SotS-III with these, just because I CAN. Wheeee!

Look, it comes with a little pin!!

Yarn. Lots of yarn. JoAnn's had a sale on Lion Brand Jiffy, which wouldn't have really turned my head, except they had the exact shade of royal/sapphire blue that is my favorite. Which would make a lovely cabled sweater. And they had enough of it. For this? Or maybe this? What about this one? Oh, to heck with it. I'll just make something up as I go and hope I get the sleeves right this time... if I do an actual Aran-style, that should be easy, right? Anyway, here's the pretty blue yarn:

The theory, of course, it that if I have this, I won't need any more needles or yarn for a good, long time. Let's hope, right?

Friday, January 2, 2009

... and In With The New

Ah, the new year has begun. First, the stats on the old year: In 2008, I finished 50 projects, leaving me to start the year with 56 projects. I started 46 projects during the year, and finished 37 of those, leaving nine 2008 projects to carry into 2009, where they will join 47 older projects. Really, finishing 50 things in one year really isn't all that bad - that's an average of one a week, with two weeks off for vacation.

To start 2009, I was a good bunny, and did NOT start a project on January 1 just because it was January 1. I started a new project because that's what I DO. I actually blame December 30 for this, because that's when the following Yarn Accident occured:

It's a ball of Lorna's Laces in pretty-colorway-with-my-coat's-green-in-it, and some complimentary soft grey/brown mix - and then two MATCHING skeins of sock yarn, which is actually glove yarn. Think of it as another Noro Mobius Neckwarmer and Matching Fingertipless Gloves. Because that's what it's going to be. And see, it's getting close to done already:

Of course, I also started that scarf for my husband out of, Danica, with this stuff I bought during a much earlier Yarn Accident:

Pics of that NEXT week once it looks all spiffy and entrelac-y!!