Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I trust your holidays were wonderful! I enjoyed entertaining friends this year as I did not get home but truly enjoyed new traditions and tons of wine, excuse me, laughter. Tons of laughter!

Since the holidays, it's been quiet times at casa knitguyla. I fiddle with my CSM and Twitter but mostly enjoy long walks in the "cold". Actually, it's been absolutely chilly and a few nights have even required long pants!

I finally finished, meaning "sew the seams" on the fingerless mitts from a while back. They are quite comfy and I have to say that my mattress stitch skill is clearly improving. The join is actually good in the stockinette portions but marginal in the basketweave sections. I wanted a quick knit for my weekend in NYC and this free Rav pattern fit the bill. They are charcoal gray/black and knit in Cascade Superwash. If they don't fall apart on the trip, I'll consider them a slamming success!

Little Colonnade of Stephen West designs also begins to take shape. I found myself with the wrong number of stitches and the center YO's veering toward the right so it had to be ripped back about 6-10 rows. I'm back on track, keep your fingers crossed!

I finally received the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice on Netflix and I'm totally crushing on this new Mr. Darcy. His voice is so sexy, you should rent it just for the listen. This version has some "teeth" and really humanizes Miss Austen's characters. I like it but when have I been known to not adore anything Jane. Make fun but I embrace the 15 year old girl inside me! You're all just jealous. The closing scene in the U.S. version is a mess, be warned! If you like, listen a bit here to Matthew but definitely click ahead to 3:29 and deny you don't want to be Keira Knightly!

In the comments, we welcome Pam! She said the nicest thing, "Gabbing with a friend about knitting, I agree, that's nice. That's what started me reading your blog." That's exactly how I hope my blog seems to readers. I'm so pleased to hear that! Thanks again for stopping by!

And Dave, please don't use dirty words in my comment section like CSM. ;-) A full post about the nasty varmint is pending. Enjoy the snow for me!

Happy 2011!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I'm 33...

That's enough laughing from the peanut gallery. I received an email from a stranger the other day telling me that I'd been chosen as one of the top 40 knitting and crochet blogs. At first, I thought the whole post was about garnering more traffic to her site. I'm sure that's part of it but it was an awful lot of work researching the 40 blogs so I decided to post her link all the same.

I find it fascinating that I don't know who the #1 knitting blogger is (anyone read her?) but I'm pleased that several of my friends made the list. The fact that I was ranked #33 and Marilyn was #34 is ludicrous!

She said this about my little place on the web, "This blogger is dedicated to small projects, making his site the perfect read for the newbie knitter. We love the blog because it isn’t too formal, so you feel like you’re gabbing with a friend about knitting."

"Gabbing with a friend about knitting", I kinda like that!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Harry Potter and a New Project

Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 1 is without a doubt the best in the series! I saw it last week. I loved it. Keep your eyes open, there are some great knits in there! In between, I ate tons of turkey and took 4 days off from work. All in all, it was a great week! Is it wrong of me to want a iPhone just so I can play the Harry Potter theme song on it?

Knitting...couldn't muster the energy for the cast-on in my last post, too lazy. I wound up a skein of Hazel Knits yarn that was gifted to me at the Fall Retreat by the fabulous WonderMike. As soon as I saw it in that perfect, center pull ball, I knew it had to be a westknits design. Little Colonnade is safely on the needles and just above the 100 stitch count. That's about halfway through section one in just an afternoon! This is my kind of pattern. I'm using the blue because I love all blue tones [footnote for your Holiday lists]. Knitting with this yarn has me thinking of Seattle and the most recent retreat. Even though I was sick times eleventy-million, I did enjoy one afternoon and even discovered a wonder of nature named after me.

It must have been the fever, I'm usually far too afraid of heights to lean over the edge like this! Missing Seattle and hoping you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Up Next...

Cast on 346 stitches. Oy!

I waited for my new Addi Clicks to arrive to start this project as it requires two needle sizes. The pattern called for a cobweb lace weight cashmere yarn (used doubled) but I'm opting for a fingering weight all by itself. I don't have the patience for doubled cobweb lace yarn nor do I have a LYS that carries it so I went stash diving and came up with an alternative in a pseudo-tweedy wool/silk blend. I think it'll work if I can get beyond the cast-on edge -- all 346 stitches of it! We begin ... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 marker.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

3 ingredients and 45 minutes



= dinner tonight.

YarnHarlot and Hizknits made me do it. I don't think I'll make it on Christmas Day but it is the most excellent Wednesday night dinner. Try's so simple, really yummy and has butter in it! Need I say more? Details over at Smitten Kitchen. While you're there, check out the chocolate cake as well. You won't be the same, swear!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last month, the Men's Fall Knitting Retreat was held at Dumas Bay and altough I've been meaning to post about it, I haven't had the inclination to write it up. You'll see why if you continue on. As always, it was great to see the guys who attend these events! I really enjoy their company and wish I lived closer to many of them. On top of that, I love the little city of the Pacific Northwest that is Seattle and could easily live there. Unfortunately, the trip was slightly overshadowed by the plague I suffered from while I was there!

To the lady on my flight to Seattle in 26B, I hope you're still sick and I hate you for coughing on me for 3 hours.

I left the retreat on Sunday having missed all of my classes and having visited with the guys for barely a day and a half. I was hopeful for the remainder of my trip. WonderMike couldn't have been a better host, he looked after me and gifted me the most amazing yarn from Hazel Knits. The camera is not playing nicely with the computer at the moment but click the link, she's amazingly talented. I'm thinking a Stephen West design should do the yarn justice. I also received tons of swag and even won the coolest pattern markers and project bag from Slipped Stitch Studios. Visit them on Etsy and spend money there!

Monday was spent in bed ordering room service.

9AM May I have a pot of tea? ... Yes

12PM May I have tomato soup and a pot of tea? ... Yes

2PM May I have chocolate lava cake and a pot of tea? ... Yes

5PM May I have tortilla soup and a pot of tea? ... Yes

6:30PM May I have creme bruilee? ... Yes and a pot of tea.

If nothing else I'm consistent.

Tuesday, having ingested a bottle of Dayquil, I set off for Bainbridge Island and Churchmouse Yarns & Tea. I loved the shop. I purchased some lovely Rowan Kid Silk Haze for a scarf from Churchmouse's private designs.

The following day, I was actually feeling well and spent a lazy and lovely afternoon at the Public Market and the Seattle Art Museum. They have a varied and beautiful collection of work and this really cool tour that can be accessed with your phone where you can listen to the curator's take on an individual piece. It was like being there with a very knowledgable friend. I especially liked the knit/crochet exhibit! It was really unique and filled with different yarns and stitch patterns! Phone photos don't do it justice and I stupidly left the camera at the hotel. All the more reason to visit SAM again!

Upon my return, I was feeling a little sorry for myself and the fact that I barely spent any money in Seattle, I was encouraged to treat myself to a few "welcome home gifts".

I opted against photographing the new china, flatware and glassware that will adorn my Thanksgiving table but I was concerned for Blogger's bandwidth capacity. ;-)

Sorry I missed ya'll at Rhinebeck. It wasn't in the cards this year!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

simplicity and joy, my mantra for life. It's true but occasionally I fool myself into thinking that technology and its advancements make life simple. I can pay my bills online in 40 seconds which used to take an entire evening. I can look up a recipe while standing in the supermarket when I've forgotten the list at home. And I can buy a book at a traffic light from my car or my living room armchair in my boxers!

Life is simple, right? Wrong! So wrong! Dead Wrong! Wrong, Wrong, WRONG! Life's just faster and blurred by the speed at which these choices come at us. Unfortunately, life's not always simple. The simplicity and ultimately the joy, takes a little work and perspective.

I give you exhibits A, B & C:

Have you purchased a light bulb recently? It's complicated. CFL energy efficient, incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, LED, compact, flood, spot, type, wattage, and on.

Or have you purchased a toothbrush recently? I've said this before, the beauty of the toothbrush was its simplicity. "Stick with bristles." Not anymore ... sonic, vibrating, round head, long head, short head, soft bristles, hard bristles, bristles that change colors when it's time to buy a new toothbrush, and on.

Yesterday, I went shopping for milk. So simple I could have sent Laura Ingalls to buy it. Have you really looked down the milk aisle recently or do you just grab your go-to milk or milk by-product without paying any attention? Whole, 2%, 1%, skim, Soy, homogenized, grass fed, goat, organic, fat-free lactose-free, kefir, and on.

All I wanted was buttermilk. That's what the recipe called for so I mindlessly went out for buttermilk ... simple. I didn't know whether it should be organic, skim, fat-free or whole. I didn't even know buttermilk came in a fat-free version. Isn't that the whole point of buttermilk, it's loaded with fat, calories and TASTE which is why it's used in recipes?!

Chad was there, he helped. Hip, about my age, great silver hair and rocking a really tight t-shirt. I liked him immediately and drawn to his "milk does a body good" vibe! He was against the whole buttermilk idea from the start but when I told him it was for a recipe, for chocolate cake using all organic ingredients, he acquiesced. I lied, there's nothing organic in the recipe but I knew he wasn't going to let it go. He was sexy but I had a cake to make! This cake to be exact! Thank you Jocelyn!

In the end, I bought Organic, Cultured, Low-Fat Buttermilk because they didn't have grass-fed buttermilk which I was told was my preference. Thank you Chad. I didn't have the heart to tell him I'm lactose intolerant and usually drink Soy or Lactaid. Regardless, he was very helpful, knew a lot about milk and did I mention how to wear a t-shirt.

So ... as the simple things get complicated, I suggest surrounding yourself by the truly simple things in life.

I give you exhibits A, B & C:

my chocolate cake, best with vanilla ice cream

blocked and finished, the dandy neckerchief

from my stash, my favorite color

and on, and on, and on.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Admiration, anywhere you can get it...

When blocking lace, remember, pins hurt. Refrain from putting pressure on them when in contact with the skin.

It's nearly impossible to make a knitted object symmetrical when you're pulling it in different directions.

Pay no attention to the YouTube videos, those bitches lie.

When you roll the FO in a towel to get the excess water out, be reminded that if you used worsted weight wool, there's gonna be TONS OF WATER ALL OVER THE COUNTER and eventually the floor! The wool is very absorbent in a way the towel can never be!

Use excess water dripping from counter to floor for impromptu floor washing!

Admire floor while contemplating poorly blocked lace.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Goo Gunge

First, I've been away for six weeks. My lovely "Sneak Peak" and "Call me Nancy Drew" posts came to you via Palm Springs. It was hot (surface of the sun hot), over 100 degrees every day and on some days upwards of 116F. The heat is inescapable. You can't get away from it and to prove it I got my first, very first, dare I say it ... age spot. [insert scary, horror film instrumental here] This is significant as I'm obsessed with the youthful appearance of my hands. Maybe it's because my Mom's hands look 100 years old or maybe it's because, I don't know ... my Mom's hands look 100 YEARS OLD!

And when the sun does finally go down, the bats come out. Tons of bats, maybe millions. Okay, maybe not millions but I've got a dramatic flare going here, don't forget the age spot! I did not enjoy the trip except to say, I'm finally home.

Anyway, it was planned that I'd be gone for maybe two weeks. I didn't plan to be away for six weeks and the garbage is Exhibit A. The trash fermented and although I never studied maggots in depth, I think I can safely say I've seen 'em up close! No person on the planet has ever closed a trash can quicker than I did Monday, August 16th, 11:45PM EST when I stood in my garage with a refrigerator full of expired food and nowhere to put it! I wasn't opening that can again. Hell, I would have hermetically sealed it but I didn't know how. In a pinch, I used the neighbor's trash cans! Thank you neighbor!

It gets worse. Last Spring, I ran over the trash can with the car. It popped back into shape but the bottom cracked. It worked fine but this crack allowed for a gelatinous, liquid, goo gunge to leak from the bottom when I tried to drag it out of the garage. Some advice... not drag a cracked trash bin across the garage floor. You will only spread the goo gunge.

2...when the ginormous roach cracks itself out of the goo's chewy center and slowly walks out of the surrounding puddle of goo, don’t scream like a 6 year old as it may attract the neighbors and then they too will know you’ve been garbage remiss.

3...after you kill said roach in psychopathic, screaming rage using only a box that your lace blocking wires came in (like how I got knitting content in there), contemplate having to persuade the trash collector to take the leaking pail without opening it.

4...consider taping it closed and putting a note on it that says "Trash, please take can." aware, #4 does not work.

6...consider pinning a $20 bill to the pail only if you want to lose $20 bucks and still own the goo pail.

7...ignoring the pail and putting it back in the garage does not make it go away.

8...admit defeat, go to Lowe's two days later and buy 55 gallons trash liners and bleach. hopeful that 55 gallon liners are big enough to hold a maggot filled trash bin.

10...squeal with delight when you discover that gelatinous goo gunge leaking pail fits in 55 gallon trash liners.

11...wrap trash bin with 6 liners while sweating to death the entire time from heat and anxiety.

12...when you accidentally find the carcass of the dead roach try not to repeat the "screaming like a 6 year old" performance from when you first met.

13...wash the garage floor with bleach and zeal.

14...wait 6 hours and carry the trash bin wrapped in 55 gallon liners to the illegal dumping site under the cover of night and chuck that whole heaping mess in. quickly before you're apprehended.

16...strip naked in the foyer of your home and bath for 30 minutes.

17...write blog post while the horror is still fresh.

That's all. Okay, the desert sunset's cool!

P.S. Blocking sucks but that's for tomorrow! [and that's more knitting content]. Yes!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wunsapana Farm

When I was about 9 (no clicking away, it's not that long a story!), my family packed up the Cadillac Seville and headed from Brooklyn to the Catskill Game Farm ("Catskill Game Farm was a zoo in Catskill, New York, U.S.A.. It closed permanently on Columbus Day 2006 after 73 years of operation" - Wikipedia quote.

Looking back, my Mom and Dad always found a way to get us out of the city for the Summer. In fact, some of my earliest memories were those going to a "bungalow colony" resort in the Catskills for school break. We'd rent a tiny, little house (my parents actually slept on a trundle bed in the kitchen in one of them) and we stayed the entire Summer until it was time to head back to school. I remember thinking that kids in my class only got to go to Paris for a week but I went to "the country" for the whole Summer. I think Mom had visions of us running under fire hydrants with the hooligans and decided getting us out of Dodge was the best way to keep us out of trouble.

That year at the Game Farm, my Dad got me a map of the fairgrounds. It was colorful, had drawings of all the exhibits and I plotted our course through the grounds with absolute precision. My sister and I went into the petting zoo and a llama decided she needed a snack and proceeded to eat my amazing map. I didn't know what to do, I was frozen with fear. This huge animal was getting her daily dose of fiber and I couldn't do a thing about it. With panic seared into my memory, I never liked farm/zoo animals again. The circus, fey. I never played with ants in the dirt, fish at the lake and even a trip to the park where I might encounter a squirrel was a flat-out "no thank you". Even today, a gecko on my lanai gives me a start and those pesky frogs at my front door turn my stomach.

In college, I tried to overcome my animal phobia and for a very short time while in college, I worked on a diary farm in upstate NY. A friend's family owned the farm and they happily let me slop cow shit and try not to get run over in the evening stampede back to the barn. I don't understand why they got to ride on horses and all I got was a big stick and instructions to yell loudly. Oh yeah, I didn't like horses. The whole experiment failed. It was hot, there were flies everywhere and cows are just about as dumb as an animal can get.

Fast forward... as my love of fiber grew and knitting became a regular part of my life, I thought my love for the animals that bore their coats for those lovely skeins would grow as well. Not so much but the idea of rural farm life totally romanced me. Granted, it usually included a hunky farm boy-friend who did all the dirty stuff but I was romanced all the same.

The other day, I visited WillyG's blog and saw a photo of him laying in the grass with llamas. First thought was ... tics, bugs, crap, trampling, spitting...ick...ick...ick. Then I linked to the farm's website where the photo was taken. Take a look at it. The enchanting, Wunsapana Farm conjures up images of an idyllic life in "the country". Scroll down the homepage and take a look at their home, read what they have to say about their farm and you too will be under its spell.

Well, I'm not liquidating the 401K to buy a farm but the idea of embracing these splendid creatures before I actually "buy the farm" warms my soul. I hope it does the same for you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Call me Nancy Drew....

but I think there may have been a bird fight on my patio today. If you see a featherless, stunned bird flying around, let me know. I have something of his. I think the pieces of nest and the apparent "poop of fear" (that's a technical term or a song title) close the case. It takes a keen eye but I'm thinking a career in crime investigation may be in my future.

On the knitting front...

K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, grey.

Call it that keen eye, but I think we can forgo the photo tonight, yes?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Secret Projects & Harry Potter!

My secret project is coming along nicely. Here's a sneak peek! There's one more pattern repeat left and then it's blocking time. I bought all the requisite blocking items: wires (rigid and flexible) and blocking pins. I've watched the YouTube videos, read the blogs and memorized the instructions that came with the wires. I'm sure to screw it up. ;-)

This pattern is called a neckerchief and in my opinion it's too long and not wide enough. In order for it to fold around the neck with the point in the front and have the edges come back around to the front (so it'll stay on the neck), it needs to be wider. Additional repeats are not the answer, it's already too long. One knitter did this...

* YO, k2tog, YO, k1, YO, ssk * all the way across the scarf’s RS before the 4 rows of garter stitch edging.

What do you think? If you have a better idea to increase the width, let me know. This seems plausible but I'm open to suggestions.

On the non-knitting front, last week I decided to finally read all the Harry Potter books before the November premiere of the first of the final films. I am loving them! I already finished the first 3 books and today I picked up Goblet of Fire. It's 750 pages and it hurts to hold it in my hands but I'm enjoying myself.

The fact that Daniel Radcliffe is finally over 21 and getting kinda sexy has nothing to do with the appeal of the books or I could just be embracing my dirty old man years! It's been known to happen. ;-)

Fiber Artist ... I don't think so.

Last weekend was spectacularly lazy. The kind of weekend you need more often than you take. The Golden Girls marathon was on, knitting was in arm's reach and the fridge was full of food. In between knitting, eating and Betty White, I surfed the net in search of new knitting blogs; they're always so positive and filled with yarny goodness!

For the record, I'm a knitter and it's a hobby. I love to knit. I feel creative when I knit and I cherish every finished object. I am not a designer nor an artist but apparently any knitter who can master garter stitch seems to think they're a "fiber artist". There are so many new knitters out there blogging about their experiences. I'm glad they want to share their progress with the world but it's plain obnoxious to refer to yourself as a fiber artist when you don't yet know how to purl. Maybe I'm channeling a less tolerant blogger tonight but it's really starting to get on my nerves. One blogger went so far as to call herself a "fibre artist". She's not British, she's from the deep South of the U.S. It's self-important and utter nonsense.

I know we're all supposed to get along. Knitters unite! Knit in public! Show your support for the craft! Strive for the most you can be but newsflash, it's a hobby and it's called knitting which makes us knitters. It may take up all of your free time. You may feel passionately about it but sorry, you're still a knitter. If you're making a living at being a knitter, stick a feather in it and call it macaroni, you get a free pass but if you've only knit wrist bands and a hat and still don't know why your stockinette scarf curls, you're not a fiber artist. If you spin and crochet as well as knit and use the term as an "umbrella", it's marginal but acceptable.

When did being a knitter become declasse anyway? It's an amazing pastime and has gotten me through some tough times. It just about saved me in Los Angeles and although I don't knit nearly as much, I bask in every finished project with pride. What do these bloggers say to people at social events when they're asked what they do in their spare time? And we wonder why Ravelers complain about the isolation of our craft, oops, hobby.

So if you're 'fiber artisting' today, get off your horse and come knit with the rest of us!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Finally Unpacked....

I finally unpacked (put the suitcase away and everything) from my trip and I'm still basking in the glory of friendship, knitting and an amazing city! Once again, I attended the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat in Easton, NY and enjoyed myself immensely. It's a bucolic setting (that's for you Joe, if you're listening) and gathering with like-minded men renewed my knitting spirit!

I loved the drive down from Boston in my deluxe SUV, thank you Charlynne for taking a shine to me at the check-in desk and upgrading me famously. The MA Pike is a lovely drive and in a few hours, I was in Easton. I love that you can make this retreat anything you want. This year, I didn't formally sign up for any classes but I enjoyed loitering in their vicinty. I had to see what all the hype was about steeking, lace blocking and two fisted knitting (that one wasn't what I expected). For someone who didn't want to take a lot of classes, I sure learned a lot!

As always, the best part of these retreats is the time spent with the guys. Chris was a great roommate and Michael, always the best company. Troy, my 'stylish' caffeine buddy and Matthew, an unexpected bond. Bob/John, the party was a blast and of course, Joe and Ted, thanks for making it all happen!

On my way back to Boston I got lost and if you follow me on Twitter, you know I ended up in Vermont. But who could complain when covered bridges like this appear out of nowhere.

In Boston, I had the esteemed pleasure of meeting my fav, Rav pal Mel. We met for lunch and she is a funny, smart, engaging and as lovely a woman as I could have ever imagined! A two-hour lunch proved the highlight of the entire trip. We must spend more time together!

While I was at the retreat, I knit my first moebius scarf of Cat Boordhi fame and I love its infinite design. In Blue Sky Suri Merino it made the perfect gift for Mel. She was kind enough to photograph it and I hope she'll think of me when she wears it this Winter.

I ate my way through the North End, it reminded me of growing up in Brooklyn. Pasta, pizza, bread, pastries, cookies -- can you say carb coma? I don't have to say it, I was in one -- heaven! I loved this building and its patina was incredible in the sun!

Thanks again Mel! Every direction was a postcard!

Boston Commons was so lovely, I read Pride & Prejudice under a tree for almost 2 hours. I know, I'm a girl. Tell your jokes. I don't care. ;-)

And, this is my idea of a bookstore. How I do miss city life sometimes!

Thanks for the memories guys and girl. J.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dear Eunice

Hi, it's me, from the pharmacy last night around 11:30PM. I was the guy who came running in with burns across all four of his fingers from accidentally grabbing the iron. You remember, the crazy soaking wet guy from the rain in the scary pajama pants, mis-matched t-shirt and really poorly groomed hair. Yeah ... that's me. I wanted to say thank you for the burn gel. It worked great and I'm blister-free this morning just like you said.

For those of you who weren't there, here's what happened....

[Guy outlined above runs into 24-hour pharmacy]

Guy: Burn cream!! Burn cream!!

Eunice: Honey, come with me. Mister you gonna have to wait to check out, this boy's got a burn. Follow me baby.

Guy: Thank you.

Eunice: First, we just gonna spray this and this cause they help with the pain but don't buy these, they just for sunburn. This is the one you want to get. This gel works really well.

Guy: Are you sure?

Eunice: Honey, please, I work nights in a drug store. I'm practically a nurse.

Guy: okay.

[At the register, payment transacted]

Guy: Thank you so much. Are you sure it's okay we sprayed all that stuff but I didn't buy any of it?

Eunice: Please ... don't you mind that. In fact, chocolate makes everything better so you take a few of these Kit Kat bars (throws Kit Kat bars into guy's bag). You like Kit Kats?

Guy: Yes, but I didn't pay for those either.

Eunice: You a nervous little thing, aren't ya? Never mind that, I'll just eat a few less tonight. [devilish grin from Eunice] Okay, bye-bye, you take care of that burn.

Eunice: [to gentleman still waiting to check out] Sir, thank you for waiting while I handled my emergency. It's like this all the time.

[end scene]

Helpful burn tip for the day: When you leave the house to get your burn gel, take a cold wet kitchen towel. If you put it up against the air conditioner vent in the car and then rest your hand on it (with the air blowing full blast), it's like anesthesia! Wet+Cold=Pain Relief

Thank you Eunice, you're the best! Don't you love her?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Get Smart

Just watched this film tonight. It's not going to win any Academy Awards but I swear Steve Carell is hysterical and kinda sexy! How'd that happen? It's amazing what you can find on YouTube, huh?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Road Trip....

Ive been busy planning my Spring knitting with a few new purchases. I know I have a ton of WIPs but there's something about Spring that calls a knitter to put a few designs into the queue. I've been meaning to start a real sweater but haven't found the right pattern until now. My friend Bruce fixed that problem with his new book, "Knits Men Want, The 10 Rules Every Woman Should Know Before Knitting for a Man". Bruce is an accomplished culinary author with 15 books already under his belt. For his knitting book, he designed the perfect mix of men's patterns and was fortunate to have Jared Flood of BrooklynTweed fame photograph all of the designs. His Ski Sweater is definitely my favorite and one that is making its way into my Spring queue. The book is lovely. It's a great read and turned out really well. Congratulations Bruce!

I also picked up Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle. It's a classic lace knitting book that will serve this hobbyist for a lifetime. I'm especially enamoured by the Kimono pattern since it's definitely within my reach. It's knit in one piece and extremely straightforward in its design. Too often shawl construction is impossible to understand and a deal breaker for me but this design is perfectly balanced. If you want to see a photo of it, head over the amazing Eunny Jang's website for a few photos!

In the quest to find the right yarn for this shawl, I went on a road trip yesterday to Sarasota, Florida. It's about a 90 minute drive and I heard a new store opened there called, A Good Yarn. First off, I never felt more invited in any yarn store than this one. They opened last Fall and their customer service and friendly staff were amazing. Go there, spend money and tell Susan I sent you! The local yarn store is a critical part of our craft and too many of our purchases are being made online. The store experience is so sensory, I don't know what being a knitter will be like if stores continue to close. End soapbox.

I didn't find the silk/silk-blend I had in my mind's eye but I did find this amazing sock yarn from Three Irish Girls. This yarn is going to be my first pair of socks on the CSM. I'm getting better acquainted with the machine and soon (I use this term loosely) it will produce actual socks in this beautiful colorway.

My last find was my new notion case. It's made by a company called Knit Happy and it's the bomb. If you didn't know, I love boxes, cases and bags. It holds everything except my double-pointed needles. They're ten inchers but crochet hooks fit just fine and it folds up into a cute little box. I could have lived without the logo but hey, a little free advertising for a new company goes a long way. Go to their website and find a local store that sells it and buy it there! begin soapbox, end soapbox

Once you open it, it contains 4 wonderful compartments to hold all of your notions. All of the stuff in this photo came out of three containers to fit in this one, amazing case!

While I was in Sarasota, I had lunch at their park/marina in the downtown historic district. At least I think it was the downtown historic district. The grilled grouper was yummy and the weather, started out poorly & really windy but some time between the grouper and the coffee, the most amazing blue sky appeared for the remainder of the day!

Thanks Sarasota and the wonderful women at A Good Yarn!

And thanks everyone for the comments on the slippers! Such high praise for such a simple project, you're all the best! They were received last week and my niece has proclaimed them a perfect fit!

Monday, March 29, 2010

I know it's been around for a few weeks but this ad is really cool and it made its way from the craft world to the mainstream. I just saw it on Towleroad. How'd that happen? Enjoy a little Monday morning creativity everyone!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Slippers & Surprises...

First surprise, YarnHarlot knits faster than I do. She claims on her blog that this project took her 1.5 hours to complete. Maybe time moves more slowly in Canada but in these parts it took about 3 hours which means she knits twice as fast as I do. I suspect she knits even faster than that especially since she's got the determination of a gazelle running from a tiger and I have the attention span of a flea. Did you see her Ravelympics Sweater? Holy Moly! Back to the matter at hand, seaming took another hour. In total, this project took me 4 hours (see how good I am at math)!

This is how the mess starts....
Second surprise...felting does in fact overlook the sins of terrible seaming. The first slipper was joined so poorly, I considered scraping the whole project. The second was seamed with a bit more expertise and in the end, wasn't too bad. I continued under the premise that in felting no one would know. "I can flatten out this super thick, bulky spot after it's felted, yeah, sure I can." If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know I hate finishing. It's tedious and I'm not good at it. Enough said!

You'll feel better once they're assembled.

Third surprise...gauge actually matters. I know , I know, it's the basis of all knitting projects but with felting I always think I get a free pass. My tension was a little loose but I continued on since I didn't think I had a size 13 needle. Yeah, it's knit on really big needles (size 15 US) which is why it's such a quick project. I know, like the math, more earth-shattering news. I now know that the seaming problems were due to the over sized stitch size by not using the right size needle. I guess I'm a loose knitter, more surprises!

And then you'll feel even better once they're felted.

Final surprise...I really like this pattern. If you knit these slippers, search YouTube for "seaming french press slippers", the tutorial is excellent and takes all the guesswork out of the process (except for how her stitches line up so nicely and mine well, didn't). It's definitely an afternoon project and one that I highly recommend as a quick gift. I wish the photo was better, the yarn is a spectacular color and the sparkly, flower buttons are perfect for my niece!

This pattern is the French Press Slippers by Melynda Bernardi. It's $7 bucks but well worth it, not just for the pattern but for the tutorial on YouTube as well. Oh, one more thing, be sure to check out the minimal errata on her blog as well, it's very minor but helpful. Go Melynda!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Cove

If you haven't seen this film, you need to buy it on Amazon, rent it at Blockbuster or put it into the #1 position on your Netflix queue. I can assure you that if you don't need to pause this film several times to either be sick, weep or leave the house for air ... you're not human.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Root, Root for the Home Team....

I know there's national pride at stake at the Olympic Games but my U.S. spirit was dashed by the free skate of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada. Simply put, they were spectacular and their dance took my breath away!

With controversy rampart in figure skating, they left nothing to interpretation and wowed their home crowd and the world. If you didn't get to see their performance, head over to NBC's Olympic coverage and take a look. If their win wasn't heartwarming enough, they sang their hearts out during their national anthem at the medal ceremony and basked in the glory of their Olympic experience! You should too, here's the link.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hellacious Heels!!

Yes, it's true, we have heels! It's been an incredible few days...just me, my CSM and the figure skaters of the Vancouver Olympics. In the spirit of the Olympic Games, I'm participating in my own Ravelympics right here at casa knitguyla. I've challenged myself to knit every component of a hand-cranked sock before the Olympics are over and perhaps combine each component into a sock. The use of the word "perhaps" is quite deliberate, this shit is crazy hard!

I remember learning to hand knit socks. It was extraordinary, a miracle when I turned my first heel. "What? Huh? How'd that happen?", "What made it do that?", "How could it change direction like that? I was flabbergasted, I showed it to everyone.

This is better ... go look at it again!

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's a Bird, It's a Plane...

it's a Hem! Yes, hem and I'm more excited about it than if Superman walked into my living room at this very moment! Well ... maybe not. It's my first hem on my CSM and it's a little sloppy but a milestone on my way to the heel. It's a good day at Sock Central!

first hem

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Turning a Corner!

This is the first acceptable gauge I have ever gotten on my CSM. It's tight and even when stretched over my calf holds its tension really well. I oiled the machine tonight and started working on increasing the tension every 40 rows. It worked right up to the top of the tension dial and with one more turn -- half the stitches came flying off the cylinder like popcorn at its moment of conception! LOL.

I know it doesn't look like much but if you've just joined us:

This is four feet of knitting that took maybe 15 minutes
It contains not one dropped stitch
And it was knit on my finicky sock machine that's probably over 100 years old!

The best part ... it's finally getting an excellent gauge for socks!

I finally beat this machine into submission! Yeah, this is big, really big!

Monday, February 8, 2010

To blog or not to blog

When Krystal called me on my lack of knitting content I had to laugh but it also got me thinking about my knitting and blogging. As evidenced by my recent entries, I haven't been finishing much lately. I start tons of projects but have terrible finish-itis. I'm constantly reading up on patterns, putting things into my mental queue and playing with stitch patterns but they never seem to end up as finished objects.

How many times do bloggers apologize for lack of posting, relevant content or plain laziness? This is not an apology post but instead an evaluative process of what I get from knitting and if the parts of this craft that I enjoy the most are blog-worthy?

I should have gone into research because I love the process. I love finding out everything there is to know about something but so often, the actual something is far less interesting. That's how I am with knitting sometimes. The low productive periods are filled with the research, practice and controlled play. Then if I'm still interested and everything is in alignment, I can really enjoy the knitting.

Case in point, the Teddy Bear. I came upon this book at the Spring Retreat and loved the idea of knitting a Teddy Bear -- a three dimensional, sculptured knitted item. It was basically all knit stitches so there wasn't much to learn in that regard but plenty to research in terms of the perfect yarn and finishing techniques. I had a blast. I started this project at the Fall Retreat and when I got home, immediately abandoned it. I started to notice holes from the increases and fearing the filling was going to leak through, I lost my oomph for the knitting but not for the project. I can't tell you how many swatches I made to test various increases and even tried to create a few new ones. The "knitguyla left leaning increase that's invisible, perfect and sure to change the face of knitting"....well that didn't happen but I did learn a lot about increases. I knew all of the increases but never really thought about them in terms of which would work best or in what circumstances. I just followed the pattern, isn't that what everyone does?

On the finishing end, I learned that I do indeed hate finishing. It's tedious and when you suck at it as I do, makes a handmade project homemade which is why I will surely contract out the finishing. As for the yarn, the limited selection of Florida yarns had me baffled and in the end, I left it to my LYS owner in L.A. to pick the perfect yarns and she did. With so little accomplished on my own, I found little to blog about so the project and the process entered the abyss of unfinished items.

Maybe I'm just your garden-variety hobbyist and with that don't have enough to blog about that's of interest to the greater community. QueerJoe and Knitterguy plan knitting retreats and blog about finished projects with the regularity that I wear shoes, YarnHarlot created and executed Sock Summit, WonderMike blogs at Fiberbeat (video included), Franklin writes hysterical books and finds time to split his time with an equally funny alter-ego (hell, I can't even spell panopti-who), YarnHarlot writes books (did I mention her already?), BrooklynTweed he writes books too and Dave spins and weaves with such expertise I nearly cry every time I visit The Weaving Studio!

I don't finish projects and occasionally write about it.

insert long pause If there's a blog police I'm in real trouble.

On a side note, I'm a little disappointed ::sniffle:: that no one commented on my staggeringly brilliant photography skills in my last post. My hunched-over reflection in the center ornament was a triumph for someone with so little skill behind the camera. It's too late, don't bother...unless you feel you must.

And welcome Shihtzuma to the followers. She's a knitter from NJ (that where my peeps live) and that's all I know about her. She lives in the land of knitters, I think I'll friend her and get to know her a little better. Welcome Donna! See, I learned something about her already...her name's Donna, just in case you didn't get that from the "welcome Donna" shout out! ;-)

Friday, January 8, 2010

A day late and a dollar short....

This Christmas thing always seems to overshadow my Blogoversary which just happens to fall on December 25th as well. I'm too busy on Christmas Day to post and then I lose all blogging interest because I missed the Christmas Day post and we end up here with Merry Christmas & Happy New Year tidings on January 8th. If we were related, this wouldn't surprise you. I haven't sent a birthday card on time since 1975!

Regardless, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I'm feeling especially grateful this year for the love in my life, good health, prosperity against all odds and the simplicity I've been able to create in 2009. This year has seen a ton of self-discovery at casa knitguyla and with that, my 2010 resolutions are clear and decisive. I won't bore you with all the details except to say that they are a typical mix, mostly.

So ... Merry Christmas and the happiest, healthiest and most joyous of New Year's to you all! Oh yeah, and Happy Blogoversary to me! I'll leave you with a recent photo (taken on the Christmas Cruise) and like it, may all your 2010 dreams lead you off into the sunset!

P.S. We have some new followers and I'd like to say welcome to you all! Wilma is the coolest twenty-something; he's the guy I wish I could have been when I was his age! That and a damn good knitwear designer!