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Monday, February 27, 2006

Without further ado

My favorite little gold medal winner, Ella!

I cast on a few hours after the opening ceremonies, since I was toiling away at work then, and finished it early Thursday morning, Feb. 23.

She's knit from Brooks Farm's Four Play in colorway Amy, also known as crack spun into yarn farm. I can't say enough about both the yarn -- silky and shiny -- and the company - responsive and kind when I thought I was going to run out. Plus, it blocked marvelously, though it took up nearly all of my floor space. Stinking studio apartments. I had to tiptoe over it for two days!

I'm not necessarily a shawl person, but I like how this looks. It's dramatic and certainly unique. And this weekend, when the wind was literally pushing me down a block in Tribeca, its wooly goodness was much appreciated.

So after two intense weeks on one project, I'm suffering from serious startitis. I've finished one of my Fruit Salad socks and made a major yarn purchase today that I'll share later this week.

I also wanted to show you all the adorable buttons made by one of my favorite bloggers, Leah of Use your Hands. She and the husband have an etsy shop called Repurposed Goods where they sell all sorts of cool accessories made from vintage materials.

I bought two sets of her buttons created from encyclopedia pages. I can only tell you about one, since another is a present for someone who reads this. Aren't these cacti and cowboy buttons adorable in a "Brokeback" kinda way? (I'm sorry, that movie really affected me. I tear up at commercials.)

Also, though I can't typically get to the Point to see the Spiders every Friday, I did meet my friend Shannon there on Sunday. That's a Debbie Bliss baby vest, and it's going to be too adorable for words.

When I walked in, I heard a voice that sounded oddly familiar, and I quickly realized it was designer Annie Modesitt. How on earth did I know her voice? From a recent episode of knitcast, of course. I think I'm officially a geek.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Which way to the medal stand?

All of your well wishes did the trick. Ella finished blocking this morning, after a marathon knitting session into the wee hours of Thursday morning. How did I perform a loaves and fishes knitting miracle? Through the kindness of bloggers, of course.

I stumbled upon a smaller version of Ella on Heather's blog, and she advised me about how to alter the pattern for a teenier shawl that would use less yarn but still be ample enough. I basically just cut out 10 rows on each side of the V. So of course I ripped back that very night and began reknitting.

Naturally, the next morning, I got a message from the wonderful Keohinani, who HAD A SKEIN OF MY YARN! I was flabbergasted and so bowled over by her generosity. But I told her to keep it since I had already made progress on the smaller shawl and, frankly, it's going to be a massive shawl as it as. Still, how nice of her to step up and help a knitter in need!

I'll take a better pic of Ella over the weekend, but here's a sneak peak. This yarn blocks beautifully:

And now I have an announcement to make that I know you'll all be happy to hear.


Yesterday, I started knitting my very first sock.

What took me so long? Not sure. Maybe I just needed to find the right yarn, and I certainly did in this colorway called Fruit Salad dyed by the ever-talented Marie of Brooklyn Handspun. It's so delightful, very melon-y and cantaloupe-y.

I'm just using the most basic sock pattern I could find. In fact, I found it by typing "basic sock pattern" into google. I'm working on the 7 inches of ribbing using, of course, magic loop!

Monday, February 20, 2006

And you thought Michelle Kwan's injury was tragic

The really sad thing is that I knew before it even happened. Long before it happened. It was somewhere around row 20 in the left extension when I was nearing the end of my second hank of yarn. I stopped mid-stitch and realized the ugly truth. I wasn't going to have enough yarn.

But how? I bought three hanks of Brooks Farm Four Play, a whopping 270 yards each. Ella calls for three skeins of Lady Godiva, at 278 yards each. But I'd done my homework and found plenty of other knitters who successfully whipped up Ella in only three of Brooks Farm. Plus, I was using a smaller needle size, so I should be using less yarn, right?

Guess not. With about 30 decrease rows left, I have only a pathetic, teeny, tiny ball of yarn left.

What stinks is that the colorway I used, called Amy, is no longer in stock. Sure, I emailed them. But what are the chances they have any, in the same dye lot, just lying around?

What also stinks is that this is my Knitting Olympics project. And damn, I was on target to finish way before closing ceremonies. (Part of this is due to the fact that my long suffering boyfriend was legitimately suffering this weekend, after coming down with a nasty bout of stomach flu. So our plans to go away were shot to heck.) I thrive under deadlines, and though the Knitting Olympics are kind of arbitrary, I'd sure like to finish.

But what stinks the most is that even though I knew I was doomed, even though every ounce of my logic told me that I didn't have enough, I KEPT ON KNITTING. I knit for hours, as I listened to podcasts and watched "Grey's Anatomy" and the begining of "Spider Man." I knit furiously, both in terms of my speed and my anger. With each row, I cursed myself for not using more foresight. I cursed myself for not seeing this coming. And I cursed myself for knitting on and on and on though it was hopeless. But I had to keep going.

I guess part of me believed deep down that there was still hope. Like there'd be a loaves and fishes miracle wherein I'd keep knitting and magically I would be able to pull yard after yard from the center-pull ball. Maybe I had wound this ball super tight and there was more yarn inside than I'd imagined.. Maybe the decreases would go faster than I thought. I even checked my yarn stash -- did I actually buy four and not just three?

But in the end, this is as far as I got. Then I stopped, regained my composure and made myself a pancake.

I know I'm being melodramatic, but that's what Carrie's do best. If I can't get my grubby hands on more of the yarn, I guess I could rip back and knit fewer increase rows. I saw another blogger do this, and it was a respectable size, especially after blocking. I guess I'll sleep on it, dreaming of a minor yarn miracle.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ballet pullover, take 2

Perhaps I was being a little cocky. But after successfully shrinking Tubey, I decided to turn my attention to another knit that's languishing in my closet.

As I mentioned back when I finished the Interweave ballet pullover , I just didn't dig the light purple and white in the Plymouth Napa yarn. It certainly looked ok online, but in person -- not so much. It appeared marbled, like a steak or something. Just not right up my alley.

So I pulled it out of the closet last weekend, bought some navy Rit dye and went to town. I felt slightly witch-like, sweating and stirring a giant pot filled with sweater. And I really adored the outcome. Even wore it to work, which is the ultimate thumb's up.

It's funny that what was light is now dark and what was dark is now light. Here's a close-up of the fabric, which is truer to the real color.

Too bad my ladle didn't hold up so well. Who among us hasn't longed for a denim ladle?

God and a slow news cycle willing, I'll be meeting up with the Spiders tomorrow! (Actually, I guess at this point it's today.) Thank you, long suffering boyfriend, for switching shifts with me. Let's just hope my aching back is better. In the dumbest thing I did this week, I waited days and days to dig out my car. I took the subway to work, not paying any mind to parking. But I had to stop doing so because it took me more than an hour to get home late Tuesday night -- and during the interminable ride, I saw two people get arrested and one woman cry so hard she threw up.

When I tried to dig out Wednesday morning, I realized the error of waiting so long. The icy snowdrift surrounding my driver's side was as tall as the car. And I had to stop and buy a new shovel because mine was too small and wimpy to make any impact. People actually waved and purposefully sprayed me with slush. I was exhausted, unable to lift another shovel-full, when a good Samaritan came by and helped because, well, he wanted my parking space. And that was just fine by me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's!

So my parents, who are wonderful, have sent me care packages since I split for college ages ago. Valentine's Day is no exception -- several cute camis, chocolates and, of course, conversation hearts. So I thought I'd share with you folks what is very wrong with this holiday:

Must technology be forced down our throats, quite literally? "IM Me?" C'mon! This is outrageous. (Actually, I'm so out of it that at first I thought it meant "I'm Me." As in, "Valentine, I'm too old to change. Can't you just accept me for who I am? I'm me!")

Anyway. Enough of that. I believe that I am the only New York knit blogger not wise enough to take photos during our record-breaking snow fall. I was marrooned at chez long-suffering boyfriend and without the digicam. I made stew and we savored the last four episodes of "Arrested Development," as well as the first disc of the Season 2 DVDs. You really catch a lot more watching earlier ones over again -- it's like there are jokes that you'll only get after watching the rest of the season. It's something smarter than foreshadowing. How can they cancel a show that pronounces, "George Bush hates black puppets"?

Obviously, all this laziness allowed me to knit like crazy on my Knitting Olympics project, Ella from Knitty. I had doubts that I'd finish, but after just one snowbound day, my confidence increased:

I love this yarn and I love this pattern. I can't say that I'm exactly memorizing it -- I have to keep looking down at my print-out. But it's relaxing and forgiving and makes spotting mistakes pretty easy. I simply can't wait to block it -- how often do you feel like that?

Plus, I love that backwards, it reminds me of one of Louise Bourgeois' amorphous, plaster creations. Here's Ella's backside:

And here is Louise:

Perhaps it's time for me to go to sleep, huh?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Give a hoot

Since moving to New York City some three and a half years ago, I've eradicated roaches from my kitchen. I've stared down a lowly mouse. And I've even had a really crazy roommate who never left her room and kept her ferrets' ashes in heart-shaped boxes. But I've come up against my most formidable opponent.


Perhaps it's the unseasonably warm weather or my new curtains, but for some reason pigeons seem to find my fire escape irresistable. And for some reason, it's only between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Now for you 9-to-5ers, this isn't a big deal. But I work evenings, so the hours before 9 a.m. are prime dreaming time. And these guys seem hell bent on getting me up in time for the last hour of the "Today Show."

This only started about a month ago, and my solution has been simply banging on my window until they fly off. But they keep coming back, and the exertion leaves me wide awake. The pigeons make this pained bellowing noise like they are either in heat or labor. And since my bed is right against the window, it sounds as though those filthy birds are right next to me, on my pillow.

Last week, I decided that enough was enough. And my long-suffering boyfriend picked this guy up for me:

We call him, creatively, Owl. He's a non-cruel way of frightening off the pigeons and, despite how alarming he looks, we're finding ourselves especially fond of him. Here he is, in action on my bird-dropping covered fire escape!

As if my neighbors didn't already think I was nuts. But so far, he works pretty well. The pigeons are choosing to bother my upstairs neighbors, which is fine by me, since they are partial to stomping at all hours.

So! Onward and upward to the Knitting Olympics! Since the knitting IOC has decided that gauge swatches are appropriate training, I decided to try the set-up rows to make sure I'm ready to take on Ella. May I please just show you the yarn that I'm using again?

This is the rather unfortunately named Four Play yarn from Brooks Farms in the "Amy" colorway, and it is DELIGHTFUL. How delightful? Even non-yarn lovers realize that it's special. My bureau chief, who is a regular reader of the blog, said, "Now that Amy yarn, that is really nice!" And the long-suffering boyfriend picked up a hank, rolled it around in his palm and said decidedly, "You know, this really is great yarn!" Perhaps we have some converts?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

One for the thumb! (and some knitting)

Please indulge me in some gratuitous Steelers happiness.

I can only vaguely recall the last Steelers Superbowl victory and all the hoopla that surrounded it. And I clearly remember when the team was quite dreadful and there was a local song that actually began, "We are the fans with the bags on our heads -- we watch the Pittsburgh Steelers!" So I know how satisfying this is for so, so many people across the country who once called the area home.
In this article, a fellow former (and current) Pittsburgher describes the victory's importance very succinctly and beautifully.

Anyway. Seeing as I promised that this blog would be narcissism free, I feel uncomfortable posting yet another photo of myself. But so many of you gave me advice on how to fix tubey that I feel compelled to show you the results of my toiling. (Thank you all so much! I needed the support!) So here she is, tubey part deux:

As several of you suggested, I decided to simply toss this baby in the dryer and hope for the best. This was not as easy as it sounds. There are giant dryers that require $1.25 in my building's basement. So this means I needed to amass five quarters. (I almost picked two off the floor of my gym, but that seemed desperate.) Then I get down there, and the gal that I always see smoking outside is looking at me like I'm nuts for throwing ONE sweater in the dryer. So I start feeling guilty for using up a precious dryer and took it out too soon. To avoid further embarrassment, I took the sweater to the laundromat around the corner, where more people stared at me for drying only one item. But I think it was worth it and, while not perfect, looks pretty good. There's a little pilling, but it looks more comfy than crappy.

As a recap, I used the Luxury Aran Cashmere from AC Moore and my trusty clover circs, #6 because I'm a loose knitter.

And in preparation for my way too ambitious project for the Knitting Olympics, I decided to try my hand at a little lace knitting. I was also itching to use the Anderson Cooper colorway of lace weight yarn that I dyed when Marie hosted the Spiders last weekend.

I looked at lace patterns for ages and ages online, and settled on this simple shell and wave shawl. And here we are so far, after much ripping back, reknitting and more counting than I've done since 11th grade pre-calc.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Can this sweater be saved?

This one kinda hurts. I could have sworn my gauge was spot on. I made size small, thinking the extra small would be too, well, small. Alas, I think I was wrong. My tubey is too big and awfully frumpy.

I feel like this resembles something Mallory might have worn on "Family Ties." Like it would look perfect with a pair of scrunched down socks and leggings.

If I put my hair up, does it look any better?

What if I stand in the bathroom like a Craigslist photo?

I'm just down in the dumps about this one. I guess I could reknit the body since it only took about a week. But that 3 by 1 ribbing was nearly my death, and I'm worried that it still won't look right. It's like the ribbing just looks ugly on me.