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what am I doing here?

in which susan proceeds to get caffienated and knit all day. if only I could get paid to drink coffee and knit... that would so be the shiz-knit.

fourth time's a charm (I hope) 12.28.2006 |

I cast on and started knitting the swing jacket last night! three times! and, well, the reason there seem to be less than 20 stitches sitting on my needle in that there picture is, well, I had to cast on a fourth time. and then I got tired and decided to go to bed. but I did take the time to take a picture first. priorities.

so, I came home from work to find my swatch all dry and soft. and on gauge! woohoo! after the evening's errands and household chores were out of the way, I was ready to cast on (finally!). I pulled out the pattern and was all "look at me, I'm so smart! I'm going to measure myself before actually starting this thing, because that is the smart thing to do and I am smart" instead of just making the smallest size like I normally do. because this is a french pattern. and I'm pretty sure the french are skinner than me and maybe 34/36 really means 32/34 in french. (by the way, doesn't 34/36 mean inches? why do they use inch sizes? everything else in the pattern is in metric. what's that all about? but I digress.) so! after making sure I really am a 36, I compared that to the schematic for the back of the jacket and calculated that the next size up was actually the 36. and I thought to myself "tricky french! I almost ended up with a too small jacket. good thing I managed to outsmart them."

so I cast on, feeling smug and excited, only to find out, after I'd knit one row (this is after that whole "oops, I left waaay too long of a tail" thing happened and I had to re-cast on), that I was looking at the wrong line in the pattern. instead of looking at the cast on number, I was looking at the number of stitches for after you decrease. like 4 billion rows later. so... I cast on again. and then knit another row. and then I was like "waaait a second... I didn't even look at the schematic for the front of the jacket! what are those measurements...?" turns out, in all my brilliance, I had forgotten that women have boobs and the fronts are usually wider than the backs of things. so. after some simple addition, I determined a 34/36 really does fit a 36.
yeah. sigh. perhaps one should not attempt to cast on in french when one is tired and not even a little bit french. (ok, fine, I have the english version. but still.)

side note: I realize I'm casting on for a really big project for myself when I have made really embarrassingly small progress on my brother's sweater (which shall henceforth be known as "birthday sweater" instead of the original "christmas sweater"). this is like that time my professor gave me a really really huge, overly generous extention on an independent study (lots of independent, not a whole lotta study) and I ended up doing 90% of the work the last few nights before I had to turn it in, which was roughly a year after I'd (supposedly) started. I miraculously got an A on that. so... I envision a whole lot of sweater knitting, say, in the end of march. in the meantime, I'll make a teensy bit of headway into this jacket and then inevitably get sidetracked by something else, which I may or may not be waiting to start because the yarn I ordered for it is still in the mail.

just this one for now 12.27.2006 |

I hope everyone had a nice christmas weekend! I know I did - busy busy, but really great. lots of family and good friends in town, lots of cute babies, good food, waaaayy too many new toys, and pretty much zero knitting. I did finish and felt my mom's gift with lots of time to spare. I just hadn't gotten a chance to post any pics or specs until now. and, stupid me, as soon as I'd tossed it into the washing machine and closed the lid, I smacked myself on the forehead and went "doh! I didn't take a before picture!" I also didn't measure it for before dimensions either. but... well... here it is anyway.

I did a little swirly design on the bottom and everyone has asked me "what does that say?" "what's this mean?" "is that her name?" or something along those lines. and then when I reply "it's just a swirly design," they just go "oh" with a strange look on their faces. so maybe it looks a little funny. I thought it was kind of cute. anyway, the colors are a little weird in the picture, but the body of the bag is brown (surprise!) and the trim is like a leafy green. here are the specs:

pattern: mine
yarn: patons classic merino, 1.5 skeins of brown, just a few bits of the green
needles: kp options us9 circular
dimensions after felting: 7"x7"x11"
finished: december 22, 2006
notes: there was great fear once I'd gotten a few inches into knitting this. I was working off a swatch I'd made using the patons a few months ago, in a different color, with only mental notes of what size needle and how many stitches and rows I'd marked. I was about 99% sure I'd remembered correctly, but my memory is not what many would call dependable these days. either way, I triple checked my "calculations" and cast on what seemed like the proper number of stitches. and then I crossed my fingers and prayed that I was right, even though it seemed off. to do the trim, I'd just joined the green yarn and knit one row, then cast off for the top. I went back and trimmed the insides of the handles by using a single crochet edge. yes, that's right. crochet. imagine that! a christmas miracle! the basic construction of the bag was knitting the bottom flat, then picking up stitches around the perimeter and joining in the round to knit the body. when it was about 2" shy of where I wanted to end up, I bound off a few stitches in the middle of the front and back, then on the next round, I cast on 4 more stitches than I'd bound off, to make that semicircle-esque handle. then I kept knitting until the handle was just shy of 2" and joined the green yarn for the trim. that's it! so easy! and it felted to just the size I'd wanted. and my mom seemed to like it, too. hooray!

pssst! 12.18.2006 |

I posted my glove pattern over there on the right if anyone is interested... I've checked and rechecked and rerechecked it lots of times, so hopefully there aren't any mistakes. merry christmas, everyone!

stranger gifts |

I saw this article today about why people don't like gifts they get from friends and family. it opens by saying: Here's how to buy your loved ones gifts they'll really like: Pretend they're strangers.

fantastic idea! I don't buy presents for strangers. christmas shopping: done! but, apparently, my mom thinks I'm having a tough time deciding what to get her. we had this exchange earlier this morning:

mom: did you get me a christmas gift yet?
me: uh...
mom: I just went shopping last night and bought some clothes! you can give me those.
mom: they weren't that expensive.

anyway! so. my mom's gift (the one I decided to make without consulting her) is growing. it should be done soon! (my boss totally walked in right when I was snapping this photo. haha! yes, I'm knitting at work again...) I'm a teensy bit scared that this isn't going to felt to the size I expect it to... I've swatched and felted this yarn before, but in another color, several months ago. I hope my remember the measurements correctly, because it would be really sad if it didn't work out right! fingers crossed!

why does everything look like poo around here? 12.15.2006 |

damn that wendy... I finished reading the book she lent me last night. or this morning. whatever you want to call it. nothing like a good chick flick packaged as a book! wendy says that they're making a movie out of it, starring kate hudson. I'm having a really hard time imagining kate with a british accent, but whatever. it was fun!

so, my aunt received the gloves yesterday! she loves them! yay! I'm so happy. I wasn't sure about the fit, the color, the whatever... but she was so excited, so I'm so excited... and hooray! a happy gift recipient makes for a happy gift giver.

as for mr sweater... well, he's coming along. I finished the back (it's really about time, isn't it? sorry for the way too dark picture... I should've turned on a light or something) the other night. I know, somewhere, deep, deep down inside, somewhere, there is the motivation to charge onward and crank out the remaining 50 million pieces (ok, four) sometime in the near future. sometime. somewhere. in the meantime, this is what my brother's getting along with the sweater back for christmas:

this is kind of like in college, when you're up against finals and you know you need to study, so you do your laundry and clean your bathroom, just to avoid looking at your books. you convince yourself that these things are of the utmost importance and need to be done. like right. now. which is why I have this sitting on my desk today:

uh. no... that's not the sweater. I can't let christmas go by without presenting my mom with a handknit gift, can I? poor mom carries her lunch in a ratty paper shopping bag back and forth to work every day, so when I saw this on knitty, I decided she must have one! I'm not actually following the pattern, though... just the idea. above are the beginnings of the mom-lunch-bag-felted-thing. fingers are crossed (big time) that it will felt to the dimensions desired.

so, like me, you're probably thinking, what is up with all the brown these days? I don't know! I don't know what it is... I used to really dispise brown and all things related (like anything earthy toned, all the way from dark brown to off-white), but, for some unknown reason, I'm really really digging the brown these days. big time. maybe because it's the color of chocolate? of coffee? dirt roads? whatever it is, I am obsessed with the brown. sorry for the absence of things not colored like poo, but I don't think it's going away any time soon. more poo to come! whee!!

ps. don't you hate it when you've got a zippered fleece jacket draped over your lap because it's so cold in here and then you drop something on the floor, so you have to bend over to get it, but then kind of slip and your knee lands right on the zipper pull and it startles (and hurts!) you so you kind of jerk and then smack your head on the bottom of your desk? yeah. me too.

illinois 12.13.2006 |

my faith in ups is not helped by this:

December 12, 2006 10:18:00 AM MILAN IL US Mis-sorted by carrier

"mis-sorted"? this package just spent 4 days in illinois doing I'm-not-sure-what. whatever it was up to, I hope it's still in one piece.

I went "christmas shopping" last night and ended up coming home with bags of books and yarn for myself. but, really, what is one to do when one has a good-for-just-one-day 40% coupon for borders and patons classic merino is on sale at michael's for $3.99? exactly. I had no choice in the matter. it was the only (somewhat) logical thing to do.

anyhow, now that christmas knitting for non-immediate family has concluded, I am once again faced with the sweater... yes... the dreaded cambridge jacket I foolishly thought I would have finished for my brother by christmas (not a completely irrational thought, considering I'd started it in september. good god, I suck.). I think I'd know myself better by now. I am not so good with the big projects. besides the fact that it's boring as hell, I think just knowing that I still have two fronts, two sleeves, a collar, a zipper and lord knows how much seaming to do is enough to slow me down big time. yes! it's true! I haven't even finished the back! I sob in shame... I must finish, though. if not by christmas, at least by... oh... next christmas?

multi-tasking and warm hands 12.11.2006 |

how do people read and knit at the same time? I mean, I totally understand knitting and watching tv, listening to the radio or a cd, talking on speakerphone, drinking something through a straw (does anyone else ever wish they had a beerhat for knitting? just me? ok...). but reading? aren't there pages to be held open and turned? ok, I admit, I don't read nearly as much as I used to these days. I've never actually even tried to read and knit at the same time until this weekend. my typical "I wish I could ___ while I knit" dilemma is eat ice cream. or beer. but I digress.

so I tried to knit the gloves and read a (paperback) book wendy lent me. at first, I kind of just leaned on the book with my elbow, which held the pages open pretty well and still allowed my hands enough freedom that I could knit somewhat comfortably. I was kind of hunched over, tho, so I suppose if I kept that up, it would have become uncomfortable eventually. (so, does anyone else ever find that when you read a book that takes place in another country, that you find yourself trying to read the book in the accent that the characters are supposed to have? my british accent is pretty awful, yet whenever I read sophie kinsella books, I find myself attempting to imagine all the text in a british accent as I read. and whenever I find my brain slipping back into american, I actually go back and reread in the british accent. it makes for kind of slow reading. please tell me you do that too...) anyway, all was well until I actually got to the part that my elbow was covering, which I had to move out of the way so I could actually read the words. but when I did that, the pages just snapped closed and I ended up dropping my knitting and just holding the book with my hands. so, really, I was successful for all of about 30 seconds. luckily, the chapter ended a page later so I could get back to the glove.

but, seriously! how do people do it? hold the book with your feet? have a special book stand that holds the book open and turns the pages for you? is the name of your book stand "husband"? because that would be awesome... if I ever get married, I'm going to write that into the vows. next to "never question the knitting and/or stash" and "feed me ice cream while I knit" is going to be "hold open and turn pages of books while I knit so I can read." actually, maybe I should just have him read it outloud and hope that his british accent is better than mine. hm. I hope no future husbands are actually reading this... these are the kinds of things that are revealed on the wedding day, when it's kind of too late.

anyway! so, I quickly gave up on that reading and glove knitting thing, because I had set a deadline of mailing those bad boys out today. as in today. and... (drumroll, please!) heeeere they are! (well, actually, they're in the mail, on their way to frosty new jersey!)

I can barely contain my excitement! these started out as these (but shorter), but after realizing that there is virtually no gusset of which to speak, I had to go to serious measures. I basically only followed the pattern for how many stitches around to make each finger. otherwise, these guys are actually all my own creation. how about that? go me! I really should write the pattern down somewhere, because I would really love to make these again - for someone really deserving. like me. heehee.

pattern: mine!
yarn: colourmart uk 100% cashmere dk, color b523, ~1.5oz
needles: blue sky dpns, us3
finished: december 10, 2006
notes: these were for my aunt's christmas present. my first gloves ever! not as difficult as they might seem at first glance, but keeping the spaces between the fingers from getting too holey is definitely a challenge. I still haven't gotten that figured out yet... I ended up just going back later and closing them up with leftover yarn. speaking of leftover yarn, good LORD were there a lot of ends to weave in! but, I must say, I am quite pleased with how these came out. they fit great (me, at least... I don't know how they fit my aunt just yet), they're super warm, and they're cashmere soft! this yarn comes still oiled on the cone, so they softened up big time after two good soaks in some eucalan. the water was so nasty after the first soak, I had to do a second, during which the water was much less nasty. so yay! gloves!

stuff, and some other stuff 12.07.2006 |

hello to the person who ended up here by typing the following query into ask.com: "why do snail eat plain clover's leave not striped?" at first it made me laugh. but then I really wanted to know! is it true? do snails not eat striped plants? and then I spent a few minutes trying to find out via google and wikipedia, but ended up just wanting some escargot for dinner.

ironically, between running to target and meeting with my life insurance agent and having this awful headcold, I actually managed to forget to eat dinner alltogether. I woke up this morning really really hungry. and probably a little scatter-brained (or a lot). more proof I'm losing my mind: I tried to dump coffee beans into the grinder this morning without removing the lid, which sent coffee beans bouncing all over the kitchen. sigh.

anyway! isa and I enjoyed a quick jaunt down to visit my good friend down in san diego over the weekend, arriving back home this past tuesday. I brought along the gloves I'm knitting for my aunt. I did (hallelujah!) finish the left glove and rip out most of the first one so I could start over. for some reason, I'm slowing down like crazy on these things. the first one (that turned out too small) was super fast! what's up with that? I think I'm going to blame it on my being sick. and I'm going to hope and pray I can finish, block, dry and ship them out by next monday. hey! stop laughing!

the trip was great fun! it was nice getting to hang out with my friend and her son. I got to visit her lys, where both kids managed to poop their pants. sorry, guys! the staff even had to break out the oust. I picked up some local handspun (and I forgot to take a picture! oops!) that I think I'll make another hat for isa's already very well dressed head. here's a pic of her modeling the snail hat. she loves it! and it looks so cute on her! I'm thinking of sewing a band of that thin microfleece stuff on the inside, cuz I feel like the wool might be a bit scratchy... we'll see, tho! regardless, it's cute. yay!

so, I promised some FOs, but I actually only have one to share for now.
pattern: fir cone lace (from one of the barbara walker books) with a garter stitch border
yarn: rowan cashsoft 4-ply, color 429, just over 1 skein
needles: knitpicks options us5 circular
finished: december 1, 2006
notes: holy cannoli, this yarn is so freaking soft I could barely stand it while knitting. this was made for isa's daycare lady's christmas gift. I hope she likes it. it's so so soft and the color is just beautiful. this must be the easiest lace pattern ever and it comes out so pretty. yum... I will definitely use this yarn again (for something for myself!) and I will definitely knit something using fir cone again too (shetland triangle, anyone? yes, please!).

here's how it looks when worn. the color is way off here, though. it's quite a bit darker in real life. why in the world is red so hard to photograph? someone tell me I need a better camera. is it time to upgrade? heehee.

ps. I just heard that winter knitty is here! whee!

and one more for good measure 12.01.2006 |

slow work day = FO! here's the ez snail hat for isa! it's busy blocking right now, but here is a pre-blocking, hanging out on an upside down bowl pic for your viewing enjoyment. what a fun fun knit. I really enjoyed making this and I cannot wait to see it on isa's head.
pattern: snail hat/spiral hat/dairy queen hat from the opinionated knitter, by elizabeth zimmerman
yarn: lamb's pride bulky, in creme (leftovers from another project, not sure how many yards...)
needles: clover us10.5 dpns
finished: november 30, 2006
notes: the lamb's pride knits up in a tighter gauge than the yarn called for, which was perfect, because this was to be toddler sized. it came out just how I wanted. other modifications were only 3 rows of garter stitch instead of 5 for the brim and only 15 rows even before decreasing instead of the 18 called for. this pic is pre-blocking. I'll have to get one of it being modeled by it's intended recipient once it's blocked. btw, this knits up really fast (just a few hours) and the design is so ingenious. love it!

I'm chugging along on the gloves. for some reason, I'm having a really tough time neatly picking up stitches for the fingers - a problem I didn't seem to have with the first one... I had to rip and reknit multiple times last night and and still 3 fingers short of a full glove. hopefully I'll get over it soon and can be done with it and fix that first glove over the weekend. well, happy friday, all! I should have some FOs to show off when I get back from san diego! yay!