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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Another year wiser -- and the dangers of waste yarn

There's no easy way to say this. Sunday was my birthday, and now I'm 30. Not to worry! I got my prescription for Rejuvex, and my mom has been putting Olay age-defining products in my Christmas stocking for a few years. Which I suppose is a sign that I'm too old for a Christmas stocking.

I celebrated/mourned with a slew of my closest friends at a cute, woodsy themed bar called Camp. There were reporters as far as the eye could see, which is kinda scary. And, as always, the knit bloggers truly represented, including the Spiders.



So there's me with New York knitterati Veronique, Stephanie, Abby, Virginia, Michelle and Sandra

Now, since it was an outdoorsy place, Camp offered s'mores as well as a cocktail called a Bad Girl Scout. So guess who got one?



And my friend Shannon, who is a knitter but not a blogger (yet), bought me the most beautiful, delicious and decadent chocolates from MarieBelle.



So, as you can see, totally fabulous.

The long-suffering boyfriend and I commemorated the actual birthday by seeing the rather bleek yet riveting "An Inconvenient Truth" then wandering around the Lower East Side. For dinner, we went to the Gotham Bar and Grill, which was also delicious and decadent. (Jon is always a better order-er than I am, though).

Now, onto the dangers of waste yarn, the latest installment in the dumbest thing I did all week. Recall how a few weeks back my stinking shower was leaking? I took everyone's wise advice but still couldn't fix it because I'm not able to turn off my water. And because maybe I'm not that handy. So I contact the super and never hear back. To preserve my sanity, I tried to get past it, by which I mean that I kept the bathroom door closed.

Fast forward to Saturday. Feeling optimistic, I put my Ms. Marigold on waste yarn to try it on. This is a cumbersome and delicate process that requires care and precision. No sooner is it over my head and I'm admiring it in my bathroom mirror than my super is at my door, ringing the bell like crazy. I hurriedly pull off the partial sweater, throw it down and let the super in. Of course, the leak is warping my neighbor's ceiling, and he needs to inspect the shower. I can only imagine what he thought of the pile of silk and alpaca tossed on top of the toilet seat.

Edited to add three things:
1. I know it's "AN Inconvenient Truth," not "the," but I wrote this late at night.
2. The drip was affecting the ceiling of the noisy neighbor, so I wasn't that disappointed.
3. And of course I put a shirt on when I answered the door! Sheesh people!

Friday, May 26, 2006

How to pick up a billion stitches without suffering a nervous breakdown

Let's say you are working on a cute project like Ms. Marigold, aka Ms. Petunia. You are slightly fearful that you will run out of yarn, even though you bought the instructed amount.

Why not knit the neckline and sleeves before finishing the body, then pray there will be enough of the yummy yarn left? And why not decide this at 1 a.m., after a rough day at work while suffering from a severe head cold? Ok, let's go!

1. Recognize that when you pick up stitches, it usually looks like you hired a three-year-old to do it. Out of fear that you'll be accused of sweatshop labor, pull out a reliable book to receive proper instruction.



2. Read and re-read the instructions. Start following them to the letter, until you realize that you aren't going to break out a calculator and do math this late at night. Use stitch markers to divide up collar and do your best to pick up the same number of stitches in each section.



3. Become frustrated and decide that this is too difficult to do while watching an emotional episode of "Oprah." Tear up when she reunites two women from Rwanda with the family that they haven't seen in 12 years. Feel terrible that you aren't contributing more to society. Continue picking up stitches.

4. Sick of post-nasal drip, take a heavy duty cold medication that you needed to show photo ID in order to purchase. Feel slightly loopy and finish the task.



5. Photograph finished collar and pledge to find an apartment some day with more natural light.



Now for something completely different. Here's the painting my cousin's son made for his pre-school graduation. (If you've never gone to a pre-school graduation, please do. There's no pomp and circumstance, just songs about bugs.) Be sure to click on the pic to check out the title. Guess my entire family is morbid.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Finished fad

After an hour at Laguardia, an hour on a plane, an hour layover, and another hour on a plane, I finished up Fad Classic. (See, flights with connections are cheaper and provide uninterrupted knitting time.)



My parents back deck is the perfect spot for finished object photos. So many more leafy greens than in my natural-light-free studio. And my mom is a very patient photographer. Here's a close-up, sans my goofy expressions:




All in all, I'd say Fad Classic is a success. She was done on size 5 addis in Cascade Pima Tencel, which is smooth and doesn't split too easily. Despite some issues with the straps, which were all my fault because I wasn't paying close attention, this was a fun, straightforward knit. The stitch pattern is clever and cute -- kept my interest more than straight stockinette but didn't get dull. I made the body a tad longer than directed, but that was my only modification.

I'm not sure my polka dot top is the best to wear underneath the Fad Classic, but I'm only working with what's in my carry-on. (No way was I checking baggage.) It also works with just a cami underneath it, but the weather in western Pennsylvania this time of year isn't conducive to something sleeveless.

Gotta get back to relaxing, but here's a sneak peek of what I'm making mom for her birthday -- French bistro top.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Outta town

It's only a four-day trip, but my mini-vacation to see my folks in Pennsylvania this weekend is making me downright chipper. I'm smiling while doing the dishes, cheerfully taking out the trash and even offering to cover car accidents in the rain. Now that's chipper.

I leave very bright and early Saturday -- but don't worry that I won't wake up in time because I'm sure my neighbors will turn on their radio around then. (The cops did come two nights ago, so let us hope Mr. and Mrs. Lousy Music Taste learned their lesson. They have no idea of the depths of my rage and indignation.)

Adding to my all-around chipperness was meeting Michelle for lunch today. She's as sweet, sunny and interesting in person as she is on her blog. We met up at Downtown Yarn because, well, where else would knitters meet?



Beyond knitting, Michelle is also an extremely talented cook with an impressive knowledge of New York's vegetarian restaurants. I asked her to take me to one of her faves, so we headed to Pukk. The food is both delicious and lovely to gaze upon. Here's my spicy eggplant and tofu plus a green salad with peanut dressing.



Of course, I picked up some yarn along the way. I'm nearly finished with Fad Classic and simply couldn't resist getting the pattern for Ms. Marigold. I love it in yellow but want to mix things up a bit, so I picked out some Misti Alpaca worsted in this shocking shade.

I think I'll call her Ms. Petunia.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

No sleep til ... Queens?

We've had a rough few nights over here in Every Word's a Purl world. It all started around 4:40 a.m. Monday, when I was awakened by the truly frightening sound of a dance version of Journey's "Faithfully." It was so loud that I could feel its terrible bass line in my bones. Someone in my building was blasting this monstrosity of a song into our courtyard for reasons that I simply cannot fathom. I hollered out my window, like that was going to do anything, then turned on CNN and fell asleep. (Ah, the joys of a studio apartment. I can fall asleep watching either my TV or my stove.)

So Tuesday morning at the same time, I was roused by equally bad music. Seems the neighbor directly below me feels the need to listen to WPLJ in the dead of night and blare horrid ditties like "Last Dance with Mary Jane" and "Raspberry Beret." Actually, I like Prince, but not when I'm supposed to be asleep. And who picks this playlist?

I hollered again then called 311, the city's quality of life line. Nothing happened. So I got up the nerve to go downstairs, pound on their door and yell that they needed to turn their music down. Yeah, they didn't.

When I got back upstairs, I realized that this was a supremely stupid thing for me to do. They could have grabbed me, pulled me into their apartment and murdered me, and no one would have realized for hours! Maybe not until I went to work! And now maybe they know where I live! (Is it my job that makes me paranoid, or living in New York?) So today I just wrote them a stern note saying that, gosh darn it, I'm calling the police next time. That should show them. Harumph!

Despite my fragile state, I have been able to knit. I started Fad Classic because it has NO SEAMS. And after my prepster jacket breakdown -- thanks for the support, by the way -- I was dying for something seamless. But this doesn't mean that Fad Classic is easy as pie.



Basically you knit the two straps then connect the front and back. It's the connecting that killed me. I kept getting interrupted at crucial moments in the process and actually yelled at Jon, "This is a crucial moment!" And he replied, "It's been a crucial moment for 40 minutes!" But after three tries (blush), I got it right.

And during the West Wing and Grey's Anatomy finales, I decided to work on the neckline and armhole ribbing. This way, I'd get the tedious picking-up-of-stitches out of the way, plus I wouldn't run out of yarn. I'm sorry, is this getting boring? Here's where I was last night, mere hours before the world's lamest dance party started downstairs.



I fear it looks a little dowdy right now, but I think it will look super cute when complete. For the first time in my knitting life, I'm on a serious vest kick. I really must cast on soon for Diamonique, and I think I physically need to make Ms. Marigold. Sooo adorable.

Oh, and a little love for Project Spectrum's May color, green. See that baby? That's my assignment editor's son, wearing the little cap that I knit for him!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Dear Prepster Jacket

Dear Prepster Jacket,
I'm writing this because I don't have the heart to say it in person. OK, I'm lying. You're sitting right there on my futon. Truth is, I don't want to pick you up because the very sight of you is causing me anxiety. And I've been getting enough anxiety between the job and "Deal or No Deal."

See, things were going well. I didn't realize how much I'd missed crochet! I had visions of finishing you then whipping up a Short N' Sweet Bolero or a Fat-Bottomed Bag. (Every time I say Fat-Bottomed Bag, I think of the Beck song "My Summer Girl," and I once even caught myself singing, "Hey, Fat-Bottomed Bag.") Anyway. I went so far as to buy some Cascade Pima Tencel for the bolero.



No, prepster jacket, I'm not being paid by Cascade to use their yarns for every project. I just like the yarn.

My infatuation quickly dissipated when I started seaming you. Let me be clear about this -- seaming crochet items sucks. You know how in knitting, the little Vs line up so nicely and with a few quick tugs, your seams are basically invisible? In crochet, not so much. There are no neat little Vs. There are only odd loops and chains and it's a damn mess.



I read reference books, I posted on Craftster and I emailed experts. I just don't get it. But I think this is because there is no real answer. Listen to what Maggie Righetti writes in "Crocheting in Plain English." (A book that uses a lot of italics!)

"... There are no hard and fast rules and techniques that always work on everything. What is a good idea for one article may not work at all for another. You need to know a whole bag of handy techniques to be prepared for different situations."

Bottom line is, my bag is empty. And that means your seams are crooked and your sleeves are boxy. I'm not giving up, but I think we need to take a break. Just a little one, maybe a few days or a week.

In the meantime, I've found myself a nice, new project. One that I can knit in the Pima Tencel. One that will be great for summer. One with no seams. Prepster Jacket, meet Fad Classic!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

no apologies here

Seems like whenever anyone writes a post about the Sheep and Wool festival, they apologize profusely for prattling on and on about it. But why? Previous years, before I actually got to go, I loved reading everyone's accounts of overdosing on sock yarn or having brushes with knitterati. So, without any apologies, I present you with some highlights from my first trip to the festival.

Fellow Spider Julsey and her remarkably patient husband were kind enough to let me hitch a ride. Here she is, working on an overdue Grumpecue blanket.



I know knitting is popular, but I was still floored by the number of cars there! We basically parked in the District of Columbia and walked to the fest. We were a tad late for the blogger meet-up and somehow missed our beloved Sandra, which stinks.

But I can't tell you how thrilled I was to see designer extraordinaire, Saun! I think I shrieked when I saw her -- I'm such a big fan. (Diamonique is my next real project.)



I was lucky that my college roommate, Jen, lives not far away, and I was tickled that she could come. Relatively new to knitting, Jen desperately needed to enhance her stash. This is after only a few minutes in the main exhibition hall.



Of course, everyone made it over to the Brooks Farm tent. Good gravy, that yarn was gorgeous. I was lucky enough to see my friend Lolly again and briefly meet Jenna who probably thought I was nuts because I was so crazy about the yarn.



I ran into Jen in one of the booths and decided to stand and point at her until she saw me. She let me know that Jess and Maya were running around. And who was sitting on the grass near the Brooks Farm tent but all three of them?



(I cut myself out of this photo because, well, you know what I look like and, well, it made me look like a man.) Jess was disturbed to find out that I can't knit in the car and suggested Dramamie -- such a sweetie. I really hope next time around I can spend a little more time with them -- sounds like they had quite a Saturday night, from what I've read so far.

Here are Julsey and I, visibly exhausted, with our purchases.



And here's the bootiful bootie. It ain't much, but I really can't buy yarn without a project. I know, there's something wrong with me.

I couldn't resist some Brooks Farm Harmony in a colorway I just discovered was called, inexplicably, Xanadu. (I once had a yoga instructor who thought this was really an emotional song, but Olivia Newton-John only serves to crack me up.) I also bought two skeins of Misty Mountain Farm's Merino Handpaint that I thought I'd use for socks for my dad, but even he might think it's too loud.



And, in keeping with Every Word's a Purl tradition, the dumbest thing I did all day was NOT buy a skein of Cherry Tree Hill yarn that was calling my name. Oh, the regret!

Friday, May 05, 2006

That's a wrap

Deadlines? I make deadlines every single day. I laugh at deadlines. See, I got this little number done with nearly three days to spare.



OK, I was starting to get a tad worried that I wasn't going to finish Blossom before Sunday's baby shower, what with all of the mattress stitch and sewing. I can estimate knitting time pretty well, but who knows how long it will take to embroider lazy daisies and fern stitch?



I picked yellow yarn because I thought the intended recipient, a co-worker of mine, wouldn't want violently feminine clothes for her little one. I thought the green ribbon had a similar effect, plus it matches the green embroidery. (And I had it around.)

For a refresher course on embroidery, I broke out my Joann's Guide to Creativity, a book I purchased for a song a few years back. It doesn't delve too deeply into anything, but gives you a great overview of everything from beading to quilting to stenciling



Now I must return my attentions to my Prepster Jacket! I was cruising at first but have really stalled. Only a few inches to go on the second sleeve, yet I can't make myself finish it. Fear not, selfish knitting will re-assert itself once again.

And, yes, I waited until the very last second to decide, but I'm going to the Sheep and Wool Fest on Saturday! I'll be heading down with Julsey, so let me know if you will be there. Now I need to go to bed. Perhaps I'll count sheep?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A cry for help -- and then another cry for help

Thank you all so much for praising my little Forecast! But leave it to me to knit an extremely toasty, bulky, wool sweater just in time for May. Forecast, we'll be seeing you in October.

So I'm two days late and more than a dollar short showing off my yellow knitting for April's Project Spectrum. It's a little wrap around baby dress called Blossom from Magknits. (I frogged my old Chickami that I never wore and re-used the inexplicably discontinued Cotton Ease in Pineapple.) I'm blocking it as I type, so I will have to embroider flowers on it later this week.



But here's my question. Is it too big? See, my co-worker is having a baby and her shower is Sunday. She specifically requested clothing for one to two years, but this seems like it could fit a skinny teen-ager. I guess since it's a wraparound, there will be some wiggle room. Here are the measurements:



Now, onto quandary number two. I consider myself a rather handy gal. I have a neatly organized tool box and use my power drill with confidence. I know how to re-light the pilot on my stove, and I'm sadly adept at pest control. But I can't for the life of me figure out how to fix my leaky shower! Both the shower head and the faucet leak in my tub, and I have to use Lime-Away to clean the stains. Plus, the incessant drip, drip, drip is not-so-slowly driving me insane.

So here are the fixtures. Any suggestions, handy readers? (And if your suggestion is "move," I have to agree with you.)






And if you are in New York and have a hankering for theater this weekend, support Steph and go see "Welcome Home Steve." You'll learn exactly why Manhattanites fear Brooklyn!