Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A whirlwind trip

So, without mentioning it here, or really even to that many people in Seattle, I ventured off to Chicago for a couple of days last week to meet up with my parents (my dad had a work conference on Thursday). I literally mean a couple of days - I arrived there Wednesday night at 11:00 and was back in Seattle by 7:00 Saturday night. That, my friends, is a short trip. But, it was long enough to do all sorts of things. Thursday, while my dad was at his work event, my mom and I met up with Heidi for some great shopping in the "wholesale" district, which is a mecca of bargain purses and jewelry. A lot of the stores require a wholesale license for purchasing, but some anyone can visit. I can only thank my lucky stars that I didn't know about this place when I lived in Chicago, because the damage would have been tremendous. Thursday night my parents and I saw Wicked, which was really spectacular. I always love a good musical spectacle, and this one didn't disappoint. If you get a chance to see it you really shouldn't miss it! IMG_4063
Friday we walked around Millennium Park and visited the "bean" (Cloud Gate) and then went to the Art Institute. IMG_4072I must say, I love the Art Institute, and I've been there countless times, but I was really upset this time. They're building a massive new wing and a lot of the museum is closed or in storage, including almost all of the Impressionist works, which is what the museum is really known for. I was surprised that they didn't move those paintings into an open area, since they're what people want to see. The museum is always good, although I don't think now is the best time to go. IMG_4076We saw these performance artists outside the museum - they were really fun, bending over and extending.IMG_4077 That's my mom there - note her great purse, which came from the bargain purse mecca on Thursday. Friday night we went to Second City, where we saw No Country for Old White Men, which was great. I've never been to a bad show at Second City - again, you should go there.
Saturday afternoon my parents flew back to PA and I flew back to Seattle - a whirlwind, like I said! I have knitting, I show you next time...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Second Cute Baby Item

In addition to the lovely blanket that I blogged about last week, I also made a little sweater for Kristen's baby: Placket Neck PulloverThis thing was WAY more of an undertaking than I really intended because I neglected to check for errata before getting started. But, the end result is quite cute, and once I had the errata in hand it was really a simple project.

Project Stats: Placket Neck Pullover
Pattern: Child's Placket Neck Pullover from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, size 6-12 months.
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish DK, superwash wool, in asparagus. I used less than two skeins. I ordered four, so there was clearly a math error somewhere...
Needles: Size 8 bamboo circulars and DPNs.
Time to knit: 6.30.08-7.10.08.
Modifications: My row gauge was really off, 6 rows/inch instead of 8 rows/inch, so I had to compensate for that in the raglan shaping. I did this by doing one fewer decrease round and also doing some scattered decreases in the back and arms to get rid of the stitches. And my yoke is a tad longer than it was meant to be, but in the end it's not obvious. I also decided not to put buttons on the placket - I figured it would be easier for Kristen this way - just pull it on and be down with it, without having to secure anything. Plus, no buttons means fewer things for the baby to potentially decide to chew on/swallow/etc!
Impressions: Lord. I was charging along on this, but I was in quite a hurry because we moved Kristen's baby shower up a week or two from when I thought it would be. Regardless, I was doing well until I got to the part where you divide for the placket and start knitting back and forth, which is where you'll really want to check the errata. I knit four rows and thought, wow, this looks really crooked and off-center. Which it was. So, I had to unknit all that, muttering obscenities all the way. I didn't want to just rip it out because the yarn is relatively floppy and I wasn't convinced I'd be able to find all the stitches. Once I had the errata in hand it was smooth sailing, aside from my apprehension about the row gauge issue. Row gauge is my nemesis. I never ever get row gauge spot-on. Thankfully, it's usually pretty easy to compensate for, although I'm going to keep in mind that it's not necessarily that easy to deal with in raglan shaping. Kristen liked the sweater, but I think it'll be awhile before I can show you any "on the baby" photos, since it's fairly large (the sweater, not the still-yet-to-be-born baby). The yarn was nice to work with, although I didn't wash and dry it so I'm not sure how well it will hold up, having not tested it myself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Best Baby Gift Ever

Well, I don't know if that's really true, and it might be a bit conceited to claim that something I had a part in is the best ever of anything, but, well, I think maybe it is. Group blanket for Kristen's babyMy friend Kristen, one of the lunchtime fiberphiles, is pregnant, and due in mid-August. She's the first of us to have a baby, and thus we have been inordinately excited. Almost as soon as we found out she was expecting the wheels began to turn, and everyone was thinking of what to knit for this, the first fiberphile baby. I wanted to make a blanket and someone else did as well, and then I thought that, instead of making this poor summer baby loads of warm wool blankets we could all make one together, from all of us, which would be truly special and unique. So that's what we did. We all (there were 6 of us, now 7)consulted on the pattern, and Rachel and I picked out the yarn and distributed it to the out-of-towners, those who have left us for bigger and better things in Portland and Lake Tahoe. We each knit 5 squares, and then Katrina, who was new to the group when we started but is now firmly entrenched, did the border and a fair chunk of the seaming (along with Rachel). Here we are at the quasi shower we held for Kristen at Remedy Teas on Saturday (have you been there? You should go.) . I'm sure Pam (in Portland) and Daisy (in Lake Tahoe) were with us in spirit. Group blanket for Kristen's babyFrom the left, we have Shibani, Jennifer, Kristen, me, Katrina, and Rachel. None of us but Katrina had seen the finished blanket when we gifted it, but we were all completely thrilled at how well it turned out! Kristen loved it, and wouldn't even let go of it to put it back in its gift bag when we left. I love that we all came together to make something this special for Kristen, who truly deserves it. Here's hoping that it becomes her baby boy's favorite!
I'm going to skip the usual project write-up for this because I only knit a bit of it and we all did different squares and used different needles sizes and etc. The pattern is the Textured Blocks Throw from Vogue Knitting on the Go: Baby Blankets Two, and we used Cascade 220 Superwash, purchased at the Fiber Gallery in Seattle.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Montego Bay Scarf

I'm thinking that maybe I'll start labeling everything starting with "the" like the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. Just for kicks. Not to worry, I doubt it'll last long. I mentioned in my last post that I had in fact been knitting, if not writing about it, and here is some of the evidence, the Montego Bay Scarf, which was a gift for my cousin Danielle:Montego Bay scarf

Project Stats: Montego Bay Scarf
Pattern: Montego Bay, by Amy Singer, from Interweave Knits Summer 2007.
Yarn: Knit One Crochet Too Ambrosia, colorway Blue Lime, 3 skeins. Yarn purchased at Weaving Works.Montego Bay, zoom
Needles: Size 7 Clover bamboo straights.
Modifications: None, although my scarf is shorter than the pattern version.
Time on the needles: May 11-June 11, 2008.Montego Bay scarf, on me
Impressions: This was a fun, quick knit. The pattern is deceptive - it's really simple, almost too simple, which is the trouble. The whole thing is k2tog, yo, repeat, with different numbers of plain stitches on the ends, which is all you have to keep track of (I did not want to end this sentence with of, but I couldn't figure out a better way that wasn't really clunky. This is not English class.). There in lies the problem, trying to recall which right side row you're on. I solved this by always knitting in groups of four rows, so that whenever I picked the scarf up I was starting row one. It was a good strategy. The yarn was great - it's baby alpaca, silk, and cashmere, and it feels about as good as it sounds. It's not quite as drapey as the recommended yarn, but I think it worked okay, especially after a good blocking. I was intending to use a more "summery" yarn, but I loved the colors of this and thought it would be perfect for Danielle, so I went with it. It was a bit success, she absolutely loved it and the colors were perfect for her. I have some yarn lined up to make one of these for myself, but we'll see when I actually get around to that!

Last night I finished an adorable baby project that I can blog about after it's gifted tomorrow. I love the baby knits - they go fast and they're cute because they're tiny!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Hum...I have been missing in action, huh? I don't have a good excuse this time. I haven't been busy at work, I have been knitting, and there are even photos of said knitting. Alas, sometimes the urge to blog just doesn't strike, and once you get out of the habit it seems like way too much work to write anything. So let's make some lists, just for fun...

What I've been doing:
1) Finishing the experiments for my first paper
- this is not going as well as hoped
- it best get better soon
- I'm trying, really I am
- I get to use lots of radioactive stuff
- this is always exciting
2) Going home to visit the family in PA
- it rained
- a lot
- as much as I've ever seen in one weekend
- it was really nice in Seattle while I was gone
- this happens every time I go home in the summer
- I got poison ivy
- this also happens every time I go home in the summer
- it's still spreading, even though I got it over a week ago
- I look a mess because I have calamine lotion all over my left arm and leg
- I lost money at the new casino in Erie
- yesterday my mother won $525 on the same slot machine that took my $$$
- she is always lucky
- the machine also favored her when I was visiting, but not so dramatically
3) Knitting
- finished the Montego Bay Scarf for my cousin
- will get its own post soon
- finished a secret edding present
- you have to wait a bit in case she's reading
4) Miscellaneous
- I had my first summer pilates class yesterday after a three week hiatus and I am sore
- sore enough to skip my planned 1000 yard swim
- this probably has more to do with lifting weights than pilates, to be fair
- Oliver has started begging for food at 4:00 almost every day
- sadly that means I get up and feed him, because otherwise he'll keep meowing
- I'm spending all my spare time watching sports, between baseball and the Tour de France
- and tennis
- 8.8.08 - Olympics!!!
- bring on the swimming (ahem, Michael Phelps)
- and the gymnastics
- made 15 pints of jam on Sunday, 12 strawberry and 3 raspberry