Thursday, November 30, 2006

In stable condition.

So, the weather? Yesterday, 80+ degrees. Warm and steamy.

Today? Heh. 35 degrees. And apparently steamy inside my apartment:


Not quite frost flowers, but a true indicator that winter has finally arrived here in Austin. Not just namby-pamby-fake-upper-50s-degree winter, but lo, the real thing.

The kind of thing we Texas knitters rejoice over, in fact! Bring out the wool! Here's a sweater I knit before I started this here blog:


It's the Not Just a Sweatshirt (or something like that) from The Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits, and it was my first big knitting splurge, because I knit it with Manos del Uruguay in my favorite color.

I love this's seen me through two Chicago holiday seasons, and is soft and cozy. The only problem has been the hood. A hood knitted in Manos, plus an I-cord with tassels, is pretty gosh-darned heavy. I finally decided to cut it off and recycle the yarn for something else. A hat? A bag? Who knows...I'm just happy that hunk of yarn ain't choking me anymore.

I cut it off with scissors rather than finding the ends and picking out the seams. The yarn's pretty well felted along the neckline now, so I took a deep breath and performed the surgery. I'm happy to report that the neckline's in stable condition, although I might do some single crochet to stabilize it a bit more along the back.

I just might wear it today. And also,maybe even my sockapaloooza socks...I'll have on the two wool knitted things I own! Yay, winter!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday morning project.

It doesn't take much to make me happy. I am deliriously happy with the results of this morning's sewing project.

new pillow

I finally got around to making a pillow out of the needlepoint I brought home from the flea market about two months ago. I had to find the right cozy fabric, and I finally settled on some navy blue bottomweight corduroy--I may have been better off with some home decorator fabric, but I couldn't find a color I liked. The corduroy I picked out has a little stretchiness to it, but I figured that would be OK since I would need to stuff a pillow form into the finished product.

I also tried my hand at sewing in some piping.


All in all, very pleased, except that I completely ignored the advice of my Sewing for Dummies book (aptly named for people like me, as it turns out), which says to cut the fabric to the size of the pillow form. That didn't seem right, so I cut a half inch seam allowance, and now. The pillow is a little baggy. Ah, well, I suppose I can always take out the pillow form and stuff it with loose stuffing.

That in the background there, in the first picture, is a Christmas cross-stitch kit I dug out the other day. (Holla, Nancy!) It would seem that, as my prospectus nears completion, my crafting has taken on an obsessive-compulsive dimension. you suppose there's a connection?

But as long as we're speaking of multiple craft endeavors, here's a questionnaire Nancy put together:

Are you multi-crafty?

Oh, hell yes. With a vengeance. I'm looking for new things to try all the time. Stenciling? Check! Card-making? Check! Sidewalk chalk drawing? Check check!

If so, what crafts do you do?

I knit and have tried crochet. I cross-stitch, and am learning to sew. I have dabbled in jewelry making. I love to draw, and would like to get better.

If not, which would you like to try?

See above. I would also love to learn how to decoupage.

Which do you consider your "main" craft?

Knitting, no question about it. Most of my craft dollars flow into yarn.

Do you ever feel guilty about the time you spend on one craft that you could/should be spending on another?

YES! Especially now as the holidays approach! Which is why every time I got near the sewing machine, I would think, but my mom's Christmas socks haven't made it past the first ankle...

At what point do you think a hobby becomes an obsession?

Um, when you look up and realize it's two in the afternoon and you haven't really showered or had breakfast because you've been working on a project. Wow...I need help.

Do you have any weird "craft" habits?

I don't know if this counts as weird, but I can't leave my LYS without making a complete tour of their inventory. Obsessive, yes. Weird...well, how many of you do this?

Are you ever hesitant to admit your love of "craft"?


Is your stash/tools listed in your will?

They probably will be. Or maybe I'll have my next of kin give it all away on the blog, first come, first served.

Your house is on fire (and you've already saved the kids/pets/family photos)...what "craft" item would you save? Remember, you have to be able to carry it out of the burning building.

I guess that would have to be my sewing machine. Most expensive item, easiest to carry.

What about you all?

Before signing off, I present to you proof positive that I am indeed turning into my mother:


I hoarded these Biscoff cookies from my last Delta trip...really, the only good thing about those flights. Delicious cinnamony goodness.

Friday, November 24, 2006

KIP report.

I was at the laundromat, commonly known here in Texas as the "washateria," on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. I'd been knitting on the leg of a sock for my mom's Christmas present--Broadripples, in Cascade Fixation. Yes, I've done these before, but hey! Different color.

KIP at the Washateria

So this guy comes up to me as I'm folding my laundry. Hey, I saw you were knitting. I eye him warily...that's not your typical pick-up line. He thrusts a lavender chenille sweater at me. This is my girlfriend's sweater, and it's missing its tag, and I'm not sure if I should wash it or dry clean it.

I reach out to stroke the chenille. It's a store-bought sweater, and the chenille is lycra-stretchy; my dad gave me something very much like this for Christmas last year. Mine says handwash.

I wrinkle my nose in appraisal. If I told this guy to handwash, would that mean anything to him? Would I want to be the one responsible, anyway, if he destroyed the sweater? Don't wash it, I told him. It'll probably get all pilly.

OK, he said, nodding. Dry clean. I nodded back. Good idea.

Sweet guy, doing laundry for his girlfriend. But isn't it funny that I come off as the fabric-care expert just because I'm knitting? Maybe he knows more about knitters and their yarn obsession tendencies than I give him credit for.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Actual Knitting Content.

Whelp, things have settled down somewhat here at Chez Yo La Tejo, after a month of frantic writing, scrambling to make deadlines, and running around the entire Eastern half of the country. Not that there still isn't plenty to be done, school-wise, but at least I'll stay put for the few weeks before I leave for the Christmas holidays.

I forgot to blog last time about a new friend Jen (the one I was visiting last week)! When she expressed the tiniest bit of interest in the sock I was knitting, that was all I needed to pack her off to Michael's so that we could pick out some yarn and needles. We found some soft Paton's chunky tweed yarn in a nice cream color and some Clover bamboos, and I bought her one of those Learn to Knit in One Day for reference.

We sat down that night, I showed her how to do a longtail caston, and then she was off! I was amazed as she took to it like the proverbial ducky to water. She almost made some mistakes wrapping the yarn or inserting the needle into the stitch, but always, always caught herself and corrected herself before I needed to say anything. Momma's so proud! She even confessed the next day that she'd dreamt about knitting. Don't you think that's a sign? I definitely think she's on her way to becoming as yarn obsessed as the rest of us.

Anyway, here at home there isn't much on the needles right now, but it is the holiday season, after all, so I don't suppose anyone expects a complicated Alice Starmore sweater emerging from the knitting blogs right now. I'm really wanting to try Eunny's new Endpaper Mitts (and with that name, how could I not?). But here's what I've actually got:

Mistake Rib Noro Chenille Scarf

Mistake Rib Noro Chenille Scarf

I've talked alot about this yarn already, mostly in terms of what to do with it. I attempted the Opera Scarf , thinking the open lace would look interesting with the chunky chenille. It's a simple pattern, and I knit a few rows of it--it's a simple slip one purlwise, yarnover, knit 2 together. Wrong side and right side. Over and over.

I put it away for a while. Uh, big mistake. Because when I picked it up again, I couldn't remember how I'd been doing the yarnovers. You know what it's like when you look at a word for too long and it doesn't make sense anymore? Something that comes second nature and you never think about it while you're doing it, but if you're forced to pick it just falls apart.

What kind of a knitter am I? I couldn't figure out this yarnover! I ripped out the whole thing and started the Mistake Rib, which I found in Last Minute Knitted Gifts (it's the child's scarf), but is a pretty common stitch pattern. I like the way this looks, and I've made progress beyond what the picture shows. The funny thing is that the part on the bottom lies pretty flat because I ripped out that yarn so much trying to figure out what I wanted that it's all chewed up and scraggly now. But the fresh yarn produces lush, soft ribs.

And then there's my leftover Longhorn socklet:

Hook 'em Horns socklet

Yay! I finally finished one, and it's so cozy that I can't wait to finish the other. The pattern is Alison's, and I think I finally figured out the short-row business. Yay! I even figured out how to purl 3 together through the back loop, although it took a lot of swearing and almost breaking my Brittanys to pull it off. The only downside here, in my opinion, is that if you decide to do a short-row toe, you've got a gajillion live stitches to Kitchener together. I did it this time just to learn the technique, but I think I prefer decreasing at the toe.

And that's about it, folks. But here's a gratuitious picture of a pretty hand-wound skein:


Look, ma! No swift!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sweet Jesus, hallelujah.

News Corp. has pulled the plug on the OJ Simpson t.v. special and book, If I Did It.

Rupert Murdoch says that he and senior management agree that this was an ill-considered project. DUH! I heard this morning on The View that editor and publisher Judith Regan trotted out some shoddy excuse about wanting to help abused women with the release of the book and the special. Suuuure, I can see that, if you were possibly thinking about dating OJ Simpson. Anyone? Anyone?

Also, on a minor note, does the title bug anyone else? Shouldn't it be, If I'd Done It? Because the rest of the sentence would have to read, I would have burned the glove, would have driven faster on the freeway, etc. The tenses need to agree.

Crimes against grammar, yep. That's my thing.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Aw, yeah.

You are 84% REAL Texan!!

You're way more Texan than average. You're parents were probably from here too. We're glad to have you. You probably go to the border for Christmas shopping and are well versed in BBQ, Mexican Food and .. well thats pretty much it.

How Texan Are You?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Here, There, and Everywhere.

I thought up the title of the post to describe where I've been for the last, oh, two to three weeks, but as I started to think of everything I've been wanting to post about, I realized that it would pretty much describe the random direction of today's subject matter.

How's that for a long-ass sentence? OK, if you're still with me...

First off, the travel-related content! You may remember I posted about my Detroit trip at the end of October. I was, quite frankly, amused by the variety of responses I got regarding the Motor City. Many people had never heard a single good thing about Detroit. Others ventured nice things about Michigan, as if to mitigate the bad juju (Nancy offered a kind word about Flint, which I only know through Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine). But Kodachrome Knits flew into the fray with a passionate defense of Detroit as a place with lots of culture and things to do.

About my own experience, I should say that I certainly don't think I saw the more ravaged parts of town. I had the privilege of staying close to Wayne State University. While we're not exactly talking Greenwich Village here, nevertheless the neighborhood was charming. Here are more Victorian houses on Trumbull Avenue:

On Trumbull Avenue

And here's a touch of eccentricity:

Not sure if this was a house, or business....

I couldn't figure out if this building was a residence, or a business, or both....? But this is what was on the front:

Color me my earth

Whatever its purpose, it's full of color and good vibes.

I also loved Detroit for its industrial, Midwestern feel. As I explained to Bill, it just felt very familiar to me, having grown up in Chicago. I immediately, instinctively knew my way around, took notice of the street names (there was a Trumbull Street one block over from where I lived as a kid, and of course there's a Martin Luther King Boulevard), and rejoiced when I saw an elevated train in the downtown area. It's clear, both from the built environment and the attitude that the city exudes, that Detroit is making a valiant effort to come back from its bad reputation.

On our cab ride downtown, the cabbie proudly pointed out the bright theater marquees, the new Comerica Park in the heart of downtown, and restaurants she'd heard were good. Yet while walking around after our fantastic Greek dinner, we were struck by one building, surrounded by glossy office buildings, that looked like it had been shelled. It's this stark contrast that best sums up, for me, this city in transition.

Two weeks later and I was on a plane again, bound for Philadelphia to attend a conference. Unfortunately, I had to fly on the day that a bunch of flights were cancelled due to bad weather and poor visibility. I landed in Cincinnati to discover my flight was cancelled, then gave up my seat on the next flight to Philly in order to score a free ticket.

Ha! Nothing in life is free, my friends. The alternatives were to fly into Philly in the am (not acceptable, since I was attending the conference that day), or to fly into Harrisburg, which is an hour and a half away from Philly. Delta would pay for the cab ride, of course. I decided on the more inconvenient Harrisburg trip, and what do you suppose happened. Aw, take a guess.

Yeah, my luggage was missing. Of course! Is Mercury out of freaking retrograde yet, Karen? Anyway, I made the trip to Philly with a very nice cab driver, during which we talked about life, religion, near-death experiences (not mine), career choices, etc. It was like being in a benign David Lynch movie--surreal, but non-threatening.

Well, I had my conference paper with me, and that was all that mattered. My luggage showed up the next day, I delivered the paper, and then hightailed it out of Philly to visit my good friend Jen in Reston, Virginia. She's the mom of the cute baby boy who got the red sweater I knit a month or two ago. I spent a great weekend with her and her family and our friend Michael, not doing anything but playing board games and hanging out and going to see Running With Scissors.

And I finally got the second Longhorn Rib and Cable sock done! Yay! If it weren't for all the plane time I've been logging lately, I might never have finished these:

Hook 'em Horns Rib and Cable Socks

Cristina was wearing tights when I finally delivered them, so I didn't make her put these on for a photo shoot, but eventually I'll catch her wearing them and snap a picture. Basic specs are the Rib & Cable sock pattern from Interweave Knits Fall 2005, and the yarn is Hill Country Yarn in the Hook 'em Horns colorway. I ordered this skein at the same time I ordered yarn for my Sockapaloooza pal, and I somehow ended up with a ton of this yarn left over--Cristina's socks were shorter than my sockpal's, and I knit them with slightly bigger needles (2 instead of 1). So, I immediately cast on for some ankle socks for me!

Which brings me to some long overdue thanks to everyone who left valuable advice on avoiding the yarnover holes while turning the heel. I'm now using my little anklets to test the backward yo method in Alison's free sock pattern. I somehow screwed up a little and ended up with too many stitches after I thought I'd incorporated all the yarnovers, so I just decreased on either side of the heel. And I just can't figure out that purl 3 together through the back loop...oh well. That's the beauty of test socks, they don't have to be perfect!

I've read in the blogosphere about people working on the small projects but really wanting to cast on for a sweater for themselves; chalk it up to the holidays, I guess. I've made four hats in the past four weeks--I even made one to keep for myself! Can I just say? Love, thy name is RYC Cashsoft Aran. I've made three beanie-type hats out of this and could just keep knitting with it fo'ever.

I also cobbled together a pattern for this baby hat:


Bobblelicious! It was my first time making 'em, and how fun! It's a basic hat pattern, but I took a wave motif out of my Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns, and set a big ole bobble on the top of each crest. Ta da! I used a skein of Takhi Newport Cotton, which was lovely and thick and glossy.

Speaking of long overdue thanks, I also have to send a big hug and lots of love over to Laura, who sent me a belated birthday present quite a while ago:


Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, and Brittany dpns for my next sock project! I'm still trying to decide which pattern to use, but I would love to try something from my new copy of Knitting Vintage Socks. I can't wait to wear these...they'll be a real treat.

And thanks to Kodachrome, who sent me the cutest little prize for guessing the identity of the bust in her office (it was Ernest Hemingway).


She made the kleenex holder, added some charms that say "create" and a notebook to keep track of crafty ideas, made a copy of Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" (because I had just blogged about the Gee's Bend quilts), and wrapped it all in a beautifully embellished envelope.

All in all, I have been a lucky girl over the past month, what with the postman (who still sneaks looks at my chest when he drops off packages) and the UPS man visiting with frequent regularity.

One more thing before I sign off--I went to Target today and they have the most adorable Christmas stuff in their dollar bin. Little felt totes and pails that look handcrafted (and probably were by some poor kid in Malaysia), generous little bags of Ghirardelli coffee, and Mrs. Field's chocolates. Snap em up, folks, because I don't think these will last for long.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Man in Black Sez...

...get out and VOTE! You don't want to mess with Johnny.