Friday, September 28, 2007

Making Up For It All

See, this is what it looked like on Wednesday when I started to compose my WiP it post - and I thought the resulting picture was so woefully blobby that I didn't want to post it.

Flash forward a few days (and some manic knitting on my lunch breaks), and you have this:

Looks more like a garment and less like a blob, non? It is Mr Greenjeans from the Fall 2007 issue of Knitty. I got gauge in Lion Brand Wool Ease in Sage, and I am happy with it. I figure if the sweater is flattering, I will probably make it again in a more expensive yarn (like Cascade 220 Quattro...). I have about 3 more inches of the body to knit before I start working on the cable section. What do you think my chances are of finishing it before Stitches East? I tend to knit well under pressure - my Veste Everest and Clapotis are proof of that.

A gratuitous close-up of the raglan sleeve:

I'm really looking forward to taking photos of autumn this weekend - it looks like the weather will be perfect for it, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Guilty Day After (I didn't do WIP It Wednesday) Post

So you noticed I didn't do a WIP It Wednesday post, huh?

I took a picture of my project, but honestly - it looked like a green blob because I really wasn't at a stage where it was anything yet. So, I will be WIPing it tomorrow, folks. WIPing it real good...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lucky, Lucky Me!

My third and final Knitty package arrive and look at all this loveliness:

Two skeins of a wonderful chocolate brown alpaca (I'm thinking mittens or something like that), and some simply luminous pale gold 'Elvincraft' (Kid Mohair and Wenleydale mix). I am curious whether my very generous SP Shannon spun this herself - she didn't mention it in her card, but she has sent me other yarn she had spun herself. And look at all those 16" Knitpicks circulars - in sizes 6, 7, 8, and 9 - someone is trying to enable my hat knitting obsession! Thank you, Shannon - you have a great SP!


This past weekend my friend Asami and I took our kids up to Easton, PA ( a good hour and 45 minute drive from our area) to go to...


Anyone care to guess? Where would you find massive crayons falling from the sky? The Crayola Factory, of course! It was a long drive (and I am glad Asami was the one driving!), but well worth it. Willow was in high heaven - everything was hands on and there were plenty of freebees with your entrance fee... not to mention the swag we came home with after hitting the gift store.

There were some funky activities - like this stop motion camera that created all sorts of psychedelic art with kids dancing in front of a stop motion camera:

And fun house mirrors:

Now, you really didn't think I was going to stand in front of the one that made me look wider, do you? Silly mortal. We had such a fun time - and Asami, I can't wait for our next road trip!

** Incidentally, those crayons above are about 10 feet long a piece...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blogstalking: Purse Guts (and evidence of fall and falling!)

It's not very exciting:

You actually caught me in a clean backpack day - I had recently switched from a different backpack so all the normal detritus had already been tossed. I don't carry a purse - instead I have 3 or 4 revolving backpacks whose use depends on my clothes and activities for the day. This black leather one is my work backpack (you know, me and corporate America and all that...) The contents? Karen Marie Moning's _Dark Fever_ (meh - I hate it when authors aren't straight up front that a book is part of a series. The main male character is an utter ass and there was no sex. So there.), my checkbook, wallet, stamps, Orbit gum, sunglasses, cell phone, company pen, extra-strength Midol, Tide pen (a must!), Trader Joe's Virtuoso spearmint chapstick, coloured lip gloss for when I am feeling wan or girlie (the two often coincide), a couple of butterscotch hard candies, two $10 Borders gift cards I recently won at a company picnic, sunscreen, and the Knitty Daisy sweater I have been working on.

We were at Bellevue State Park for the above mentioned company picnic, and I took some photos of some trees starting to turn colour. There wasn't any of the overt red and yellow yet, but as of 5:10am this morning, autumn is here!

Last night all three of us went to the birthday party of Willow's friend, Haley and we had the best time! It was an ice skating party, and let me tell you, the last time I went ice skating was with Lisa McGladdery when I was 19 year old! I will admit to landing on my bum twice, but overall I think I did really well - I did laps of the rink and felt great afterward. It was the first time ice skating for both Andrew and Willow - and while Andrew fared well (didn't fall down even once), Willow was like a ragdoll on the ice. I honestly expected to see bruises all along her hip and behind this morning, but found nothing.... Ah! To have the recuperative powers of a 5 year old! I am looking forward to trying this out again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blogstalking Returns: Who Am I?

I'm a bit of a latecomer to this round of Blogstalking, and the problem with that is that I have seen so many great examples of people explaining who they are - I don't want to copy anyone, so I am going to keep this simple.

I am:

Accident-prone * Analytical * Arachnophobe * Auntie * Baker * Bibliophile * Bossy * Canadian * Casual * Housekeeper * Chief Cook and Bottle washer * Creative * Cynical * Daughter (and -in-law) * Etymologist * Expert * Foreigner * Friend * Gardener * Generous * Granddaughter * History Buff * Knitter * Linguist * Mom * Obsessive-compulsive * Perfectionist * Pollyanna * Sarcastic * Short-tempered * Sister * Smart ass * Verbose * Wife * World Traveler

Okay, the linguist in me is grating at the fact that some of those words need articles in front of them, but I am trying to get a handle on the obsessive-compulsive part and leave it be. I also know that some of those traits are contradictory... but I can't help that.


Here's the new skein - I'm calling it 'Over-ripe Raspberries':

This was a combination of Wiltons black and burgundy - and if you look really closely at the black part, you would see that it is more like dark green/dark burgundy/dark purple. I am not sure what I would have to do to get a truer black.

And here is Willow sporting the hat I finished last night whilst watching 'K*Ville' (not a bad show - I will probably watch it again):

I *love* how my self-striping dyeing is turning out - yay me! (And only two ends to weave in for stripes!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Every Once in a While

I actually manage to finish one of my knitting projects...

This one had been languishing for a while. I finished the knitting part of it back during the first week of July and brought it with me hoping my Mom could show me how to install the zipper, but we didn't end up having time for that... so the unfinished vest went back into its bag and plopped back into the stash.

Then along came the dress code...

This kid was going to need sweaters and vests fast and I only had a handful of colours to choose from! So, last week I pulled this off the stash pile, went over to my mother-in-law's house to raid her sewing room supplies, and sewed in the zipper.

It isn't perfect, but I am happy with it for a first attempt.

The particulars:

Pattern: Knitting Pure and Simple #271 Child's Bulky Hooded Vest
Yarn: Plymouth Oh My in Olive - 4 skeins
Needles: Knitpicks Options size 6

And Willow loves it!


Andrew and I went into Philly yesterday to celebrate our 10th anniversary by going to the King Tut exhibit at the Franklin Institute which is starting to be one of my favourite places to go to in Philadelphia. It was a beautiful day:

The show itself... well, I give it a solid B. I love Egyptian history - watch all the documentaries I can manage on television - but I don't think the exhibit was managed well. It was very crowded - the tickets were timed for entrance, but then didn't ensure that traffic was flowing at a good pace so some rooms were clogged. I think it was a misnomer to call it a King Tut exhibit because there was only a handful of objects from his tomb and the famous funerary mask they used for all the advertisements was nowhere to be seen.

Me and Anubis hanging out:

We tried to find a nice cafe or restaurant to have lunch in, but almost everything was closed on this sunny Sunday afternoon - so we headed back to town at had dinner at our favourite place for Prime Rib... which as of tonight has given us 6 portions!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Decade Ago

A decade ago today I was a scared 24 year old getting married in a foreign country. Andrew and I met - a girl from the West Coast of Canada and a boy from the East Coast of the USA - in Japan, and we needed to get married in order to expedite my immigration process. We were married at Sakura City Hall, with only our boss Margaret Otake and our Japanese teacher Ikegami-sensei in attendance (and with their valuable help we translated all of our necessary documents).

The whole day was surreal. It was a rainy Tuesday morning in our area of Japan, and we had breakfast at a McDonalds before taking the train out to City Hall. The entire process took maybe 2 hours - and was rather anti-climatic. We signed our translated documents (included in that pile were signed affidavits from our respective embassies saying we were of sound mind to get married), waited around, and then a clerk called us to the counter, handed us our Japanese Certificate of Marriage and that was it.

Margaret took us out for lunch to a fancy French restaurant (the name escapes me but I remember it had an enormously long table made from a single log), and then I went home and Andrew to work for the afternoon. When he came home we celebrated with a bottle of Dom Perignon... and tuna casserole. Trust me, tuna casserole was a treat for us in Japan!

Sweetie, it's been a wild ride... two countries, two states, another degree (and another one soon), a child, a house... and lots of ups and downs in between. I love you. You drive me to utter madness sometimes, but I still love you.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Generic Hat Recipe for Cristi

Cristi asked yesterday if I had a generic hat recipe I use for these hats. I do, and here it is:

Gauge? We don't need no stinkin' gauge. For the most part this is worsted to heavy worsted weight stuff and I use size 6 or 8 12" circulars as the mood pleases me and switch to DPNs when it gets too tight.

CO a multiple of 8 stitches plus 1. (For most children's hats, depending on the thickness of the yarn, this will be 65, 73 or 81 stitches). Join, be careful not to twist, and place a stitch marker after the first stitch.

Work a 2X2 rib pattern, and when you get to that last lonely stitch, K2tog with the first one to create a tighter join. Work the rib for 1.5 - 3" as it pleases you.

Switch to knitting every stitch, and K7, M1 all around (this confused me when I first started this, so for you absolute newbies, it means knit 7 stitches, make 1 in that 8th stitch, then knit that 8th stitch). Repeat until you get to the marker.

Knit until you think that hat is long enough to get to the crown of someone's head. I'm afraid I don't have an exact measurement here. I have a 5 year old model and I use make her sit still, pull the hat on her head until I think I am where I should be decreasing.

Count your stitches and start using your elementary school math. If you have 72 stitches, 8X9=72, so when you start decreasing you will K7, K2tog all the way around until the marker. The next round you will knit plain. The third row you will K6, K2tog all around, then knit a row plain. Each decrease row you will knit one less before you start K2tog. Switch to DPNs when it gets too tight on the circular. Keep going until you get to the row where you K2tog all around (no extra K stitches preceding it), and knit the last row plain.

Cut a 6" tail on the yarn, using a needle pull the tail through the last loops, pull tight, and weave in the end. Voila! A child's hat!

Here is a pic of Willow and the chapeau du jour:

This is the Patons Classic Wool I dyed this week and my sister Teri suggested calling it 'Mossberry.' I have another skein soaking in vinegar right now and am trying to decide what colour combination to go with next. I was at JoAnn's this morning using my 40% coupons to get more skeins of Patons Classic Wool (yeah... I brought Willow with me so she could use another coupon and get me more wool. I'm shameless.) I also picked up two new dye colours: black and burgundy. I'm a little worried that the black will just fan out like some of the other dyes have.

On our way back from JoAnn's we stopped at a grocery store that was having a grand re-opening party and Willow was given the coolest balloon:

Wouldn't that be a neat combination? A little burgundy, more pink, then leave some undyed?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Six Hats for Alex

I've been a knitting rut of late.

I had all these cute sweaters planned for Willow and then the dress code caught me unaware and all those cute projects fell along the wayside. I have finished one school sweater for her and am working on another... but it is so ho-hum. Both my sisters are pregnant right now and a dear co-worker's wife just had a baby on Wednesday and I really should be making something for them as well... but I am having such a hard time getting to it.

So what do I do when I am wallowing?

I knit hats.

These hats are all for Hats for Alex and I hope to get them in the mail tomorrow. From L to R: 1) My own hand-dyed Patons Classic Wool; 2) Bernat Twist; 3) Lots of Wool-ease leftovers; 4) Something that had been in my stash so long I no longer had a ball band for; 5) Lots of acrylic leftovers; and 6) Patons Decor. At least someone will benefit from my rut!

The blue stripe one is more adult-sized... but I figure there must be a teenager or a pre-teen with lots of hair at this hospital:

Who am I kidding? I'm 34 - I only get carded once in a blue moon now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

WiP It Wednesday

Skein #2 all dyed up:

Again, this one didn't turn out quite how I intended - but I suppose that comes with practice. What I wanted was a cornflower blue and lime green mix. I used the Wiltons dye that is actually called 'Cornflower Blue', but it separated into powder blue and violet almost as soon as hitting the dyepot water. The only light green I had in my dye box was 'Leaf Green' and I wanted something Spring-ier than that, so I added a dollop of yellow to the leaf green and got the snazzy lime I was looking for.

Here's a close up:

I didn't get a chance to take pictures in natural light so they are a bit yellowed here. And I did lengthen the distance between my lawnchairs when I strung out the skein prior to dyeing, so I hope to achieve the wider stripes on the hats I intend to knit with this skein.

Does anyone have a name for this one?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Arbutus At Best At Work

I was a little surprised at how my 'Arbutus At Best' skein knit up:

I had honestly expected the stripes to be wider - especially since I was knitting a child-sized hat. Never fear! I have another skein percolating in the crockpot right now and I places my lawnchairs even further apart this time to ensure wider stripes.


I was waiting for the news outlets to make a big deal over the fact that today was the sixth anniversary of 9/11 and am a bit surprised that they have been handling this in a rather low-key fashion. I remember last year watching the CNN coverage from 9/11/01 synched up to real time. It was odd and surreal -because you knew things that will happen that hadn't 'happened' yet in the news cast and you caught all the rumours and misconceptions as they went along.

At work today we broke into a somewhat spontaneous "Where were you on 9/11?" The group I am with now is not entirely the same group that existed six years ago so there were some new stories to hear. Personally, I was at work in a new job that day. One of the women I worked with had come in late because her daughter had an early morning dentist appointment. She came into the office with a bewildered look on her face and said, "I heard the news as I was parking - they said something about a plane crashing into a high rise in New York City." And so it began.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

36 Things on a Lazy Sunday

Stolen from Shan:

Three people who make me laugh:
1. Will Ferrell in 'Elf'
2. Gara
3. 'The Office'

Three things I love:
1. My family
2. Malabrigo Wool
3. Coffee Crisp chocolate bars

Three things I don't like:
1. Smoking
2. Litterbugs (ties into #1)
3. Willful ignorance

Three things I don't understand:
1. Monte Cristo sandwiches
2. Drinking the milk from the cereal bowl - yech!
3. High heels

Three things on my desk
1. Smithsonian magazine
2. Framed picture of my sister, Teri
3. Bottle of Advil (my neck hurts)

Three things I am doing right now:
1. Listening to Nora Roberts "High Noon" on CD
2. Comparing numbers
3. Waiting to turn of the sprinkler in the yard

Three things I want to do before I die:
1. Vacation in Iceland
2. Watch a storm in Miami
3. Drive across Canada

Three things I can do:
1. Bend my fingers all the way backward
2. French braid my hair in less than a minute
3. Bake really good cinnamon buns

Three things I can't do:
1. Program my cell phone
2. Reach things on top shelves
3. Change a tire

Three things you should listen to:
1. Leonard Cohen songs sung by Tori Amos
2. Nora Roberts 'In Death' books on CD
3. The Preston and Steve show on WMMR

Three things you should never listen to:
1. The Willfully Ignorant(see above) but Conversely Self-righteous
2. People who spitefully point out your limitations
3. Fox News ;p~

Three shows I watched as a kid:
1. Solid Gold
2. Captain Kangaroo
3. The Friendly Giant

Feel free to pilfer... but leave a comment if you do so I can check your answers.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Chapter 101: In Which Jo is Horribly Spoiled

Woo-hoo! I love getting mail! I came home at noon today to meet the bug guy for our semi-annual rendez-vous and there were not one, but two packages waiting for me on my doorstep. The first was my second package from my Knitty SP9 upstream pal:

Clockwise from the royal blue - Malabrigo (Be still my heart! How I love to knit with thee!) Two skeins of Plymouth Suri Merino in cream and a lovely blue-green, and most importantly - two skeins my SP spun herself! The light blue is a Columbia/Dorset blend and the darker one a 100% merino that is self-striping. Also, not pictured - the current issue of Spin-Off magazine. SP, thank you so much! I can't wait to try these all out! I have never bought this magazine before, either, so I am eager to go through it.

Here is some yarn pron for all of you:

I'm so lucky!
And don't forget the second package - my Turtle Daddy's Sock Blockers came in the mail from Turtlegirl herself! Don't my socks look so much better here? They actually look like socks and not like lumps anymore.
Go visit Cristi's shop - I'm sure you will love the stuff there! The yarn above is Knitpicks Dancing and I have been working on these socks forever. I'm hoping these sock blockers are the impetus to get my socks done quicker!

And she had one treat still in there for me - some destashed sock yarn! This was from something separate altogether but she included it in the package. Thank you - I love all the greens in this yarn.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Arbutus At Best

Oh, you gotta love four day weekends... By Sunday morning I didn't know what to do with myself (my body was telling me that my weekend was over and I should be in my cube neck deep in Excel and drinking lots of coffee), so I dug out some Patons Classic Wool that I had bought recently and decided to play.

Andrew walked in on me in the sunroom, walking backward around two lawn chairs. "Um, Jo - what are you doing?" Me: "I'm going to dye this yarn with some Wilton's icing dye." Him: "Please tell me *not* in the bathtub!" Me: "Huh?" (I really was confused - why would he think I would do this in the bathroom? We have a *small* bathroom.) "No - I'm doing it here in my crock pot." He walked away, probably muttering to himself about what a nutcase his wife is.

I created a long skein - my intention was to create self-striping yarn so I wouldn't have to continually change colours while I knit hats this winter. I love the look of striped hats but really am lazy about changing colours (see previous post about my hatred of weaving in ends). Then I tied it up at various intervals, using a different colour yarn at each point behind the chair to mark the division in yarn colours.

Willow helped to poor the vinegar in and smush the yarn together so it would soak up the liquid. She wasn't pleased me with afterward. She insinuated that I didn't inform her that vinegar is stinky and that the smell would stay on her hands...

I was halfheartedly following Julie Theaker's tutorial from Knitty Spring 2007 for this exercise. She didn't have anything specifically geared toward self-striping yarns, so I tried to use my head (dangerous, I know) and stuff I had seen in various blogs in the past. I put half the skein in my crock pot, topped it off with water and a bit more vinegar, and let it start steaming (about 30 minutes on high).

Then I dissolved about a half to three-quarter teaspoon of Wilton icing dye in 'Teal' in a cup of boiling water (note to self - next time stir it longer!) and poured that into the pot. I gave it a brief swish with a spoon to distribute the dye evenly, but on the pot, and set the timer for and hour and forty-five minutes.

At that point the dye had been sucked up and the water was clear. I pulled the skein out and piled it into a pie pan to cool overnight.

The next morning I repeated the last few steps with the other half of the skein.

And added in some Wilton's icing dye in 'Brown.' One small problem... I had read on a few different tutorials that the purple dyes sometimes act weird when exposed to vinegar. Basically, the blue and red of the purple become their own entities and the yarn is dyed splotches of red and blue rather than purple. Apparently brown does the same. As soon as it hit the water, it divided up into pink-auburn and light beige. I panicked and mixed up another batch of brown, hoping to counter-act the division, but was only somewhat successful in the end.

After everything had been taken out of the pot and cooled down, Willow helped me wash the yarn in her Mango Madness shampoo and put it through a spin cycle in the washing machine. Then I hung it up to completely dry on the sweater rack and walked away for a few hours.

You can see here where there are differences in colour in the brown half of the skein:

And this is what my beauty looks like all skeined up again!

The colours weren't quite what I was looking for - my desire was to have a more aqua and chocolate coloured skein, but I don't think this is bad for a first try with Wilton's icing dye. I was looking at the skein in the sunroom with the light on it and it made me think of an arbutus tree, so I'm calling the colour 'Arbutus At Best.'

And a bonus shot - all caked up and ready to go!

I want to try this again with sock yarn - but I have to say I am a bit afraid at the diameter of skein I will have to pull off to get the stripes I want!

And finally, a blurry Willow action shot:

We were at my in-laws' house today for lunch and Willow was having her own little bubble party in the backyard. I was trying really hard to catch her but she was running a mile a minute to make the bubbles dance behind her.