Sunday, December 30, 2007

The glorious queue.

I'm not gonna lie: my knitting life is a little boring right now. The only project I have going is the second glove for Dashing, which I may or may not have only cast on a few hours ago. Yes, it was supposedly a Christmas gift, but the thing is that my boyfriend got dragged on a family vacation (because going to school in Montana for most of the year apparently doesn't constitute being away from here often enough?) and won't be back until January 1st. I knew I wasn't going to finish his gift before he left, so I suggested we just exchange 1 gift before he left and leave any others until after he got home. Gives me more time, plus maybe he'll get me something pretty on his trip! (If you're curious, the gifts we did exchange were a 2008 Slingshot organizer and a massive street atlas of Metro Detroit. Ah, romance!)

So, let's talk about my queue and all the awesome selfish knitting I'm going to be doing now that the holidays are over! Ok, I do have some gifts left -- gotta finish up Dashing, there are a few tiny secret knitted gifts I'd like to send out soonish, and I never made those cool mittens for my buddy Jacob. I'll get to those when I get to them, though. (I think he knew better than to expect them from me remotely on time. I still owe him a cheesecake from his birthday last July...)

Anyway, how much do you love having a queue on Ravelry? It's wonderful! I have friends on there who queue literally hundreds of items, meaning that when I check my friend activity page I get introduced to all kinds of new patterns daily. Me, though, I keep my queue reasonable; right now I've got 7 items in it. They're all things I fully intend to knit within the next few months, rather than things I'd like to knit at some point in my life (those millions of patterns go into a huge file on my computer). And I am obsessively thinking about the first item on there all the time lately:
  • The 18 Seconds to Sunrise Hat (Ravelry link/Pattern) A weird name for a cute hat! I need a hat, guys. I have a couple: one I stole from my boyfriend and one my friend Sara passed on to me. Oh, and I found a bizarre old Russian-looking fur one when cleaning my room yesterday (no idea where that came from... fur is gross, so I promise you I didn't buy it - probably someone left it at my house a million years ago). They're ok but they're not so me and they're really not even that warm.

    The reason I have so few hats is that I did not understand that I was capable of looking ok in hats until I visited Brian in Montana last October and it was like 20 degrees out all the time and I was kind of secretly staying in his dorm room on the all-boys floor (scandalous, I know! But hotels there only rent to you if you're over 21 and we aren't, which is totally not my fault). So on the first day or so he plopped one of his hats on my head and I started to protest about how stupid it looked, but then I thought, "Hey, this is warm! And easier than sneaking to a girls' floor to wash my hair!" And later I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and that was that: hats are my new best friends.

    Ok, so I've understood that I can wear hats for a couple months now, but surely you can understand why I haven't bought any. Cute hats in stores provoke the universal knitters' response from me: "Oh, I'll just make it!" Nevermind that it may involve plenty of techniques I don't know and that I don't have the yarn or the needles for it and that my ears are cold right now! I could make make myself a hat, and so I must. I've bookmarked roughly a kajillion hat patterns, but this one calls out to me the most. I don't really know why, but it's just wildly appealing to me. I spend an appalling amount of time fantasizing about it: the potential yarns and colors, the amazing way it will look when it's done. Oh man, I can't wait!

  • The Hot Lava Shrug (Ravelry link/Pattern) This might be one of the first things I ever queued on Ravelry (I reorder the thing so much that I can't tell anymore). As soon as I saw it, I knew it had to be one of my first post-holiday projects. Again, the potential! The colors I could use! The buttons or brooches or various other items I could use to fasten it! Endless daydreaming fodder, I'm telling you.

  • The Stewie Griffin Doll (Ravelry link/Pattern) Believe it or not, this will actually be a gift for my mother. She is beyond obsessed with Family Guy and I think she will like this more than anything else I could possibly knit for her. This was going to be her Xmas gift but I quickly realized I wouldn't have the time, so now I'm doing it for her birthday in March. I think she'll be completely surprised by it and I seriously can't wait to see her reaction!

  • The Unbelievably Adorable Hearts (Ravelry link/Pattern) There are no words for how freaking cute these are! Lynn at ColorJoy linked to them recently and I was overcome by an urge to make thousands of them. I mean, can you imagine a cuter or quicker Valentine's Day project? That "holiday" tends to make me want to throw up a little, but I don't care because these are just too good! I wanted to link the pattern in case any other knitters would have the same reaction. If you're one of the non-knitters to whom I would give something like this...just pretend like you never saw it.
So, anyway, there are some of the queued patterns fueling my knitting daydreams at the moment. Sorry if that was long & nonsensical -- I woke up with an unbelievable amount of pressure in my sinuses and am on so much cold medicine that earlier I was having brilliant thoughts like, "Nine times three can't be 27! It just doesn't make sense!" Math has never been my strong suit, but...what I'm saying is that I miiiight be a little out of it today.

Any patterns you're presently obsessed with or itching to try out?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Wrap-Up.

Christmas was wonderful! Not only did I get to see my family & get some awesome presents myself (more on that in a minute), but my own handmade gifts went over extremely well. I've only given a few of them so far, actually. On Christmas morning I finished a necklace for my step-mom:

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I was really nervous & unsure that she would like it, but she definitely loved it! She wore it for the rest of the day & showed it off to all our relatives. :)

My brother liked his hat, too, though it is a little shorter than I'd like. I didn't get a great picture of him in it, but here's a slightly blurry one of us together:


He wants one with ear flaps next.

Yesterday morning I gave my friend Nick his completed toy penguin. I meant to get a picture of him with it but I'll have to do that another time. I did have quite an extensive photo shoot with the presently unnamed penguin on my friend's bookshelf, though:

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I'm so pleased with how it came out, guys!! It might be my favorite thing I've ever made, though that's partly due to Nick's reaction. I don't think he could've possibly loved it more or been more enthusiastic about it! All my friends really liked it, actually, and even my pal Jacob who usually teases me about knitting said, "That is awesome! I'm seriously proud that you made that -- I'm not even being sarcastic!" Haha.

Last of all, I gave my friend Sara the headband I made for her and she said it was just what she'd been needing. Perfect!

I still have some gifts left to give (...and finish), but I'm so happy that all of these went over so well! As for what I got...well, I was spoiled! My family is beyond good to me on Christmas, really. There were a few you might be interested in, too. My beloved Aunt Amy sent me a gift card to Knit A Round, my favorite LYS! It hasn't arrived yet, but when it does my Aunt Andrea & I will have to have a shopping spree, since she got one too. I also got Romantic Hand Knits by Annie Modesitt, which has some ridiculously beautiful patterns, and AlterNation. I only got one cookbook, but it's a huge and somewhat intimidating one: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. Reviews of all of those will follow when I've actually read more & made some things from them, but I'm terribly excited about all three!

I hope you all had a spectacular Christmas, and I should be back to post some more very soon.

Monday, December 24, 2007


So apparently in the hat pattern I'm using, "M" stands not for "medium," but for "really really small." Yeah, not a lot of logic to it, but that's the only conclusion I can really draw, because I just knit this hat again for my brother, going up a size, and, uh, it still seems way too small. It looked fine until I sewed up the seam just now and it became rapidly and horribly apparent that it was just going to be WAY too little. (Oh, look, yet another argument for knitting everything in the round!) AHHHH!!! It's definitely Christmas Eve, what on earth should I do?! I'm so undecided. I know I could make another in a night if I had to, but I kinda have lots else to do, too...

Wait, I just showed it to my mom and then my step-dad tried it on and it more or less fit him (though it looked terrible), so if it can stretch over his head maybe it will fit my brother too? I hope? Oh god. This is why I should be MUCH less of a horrible procrastinator. My sister did say that my brother has an abnormally small head, but I think she's just trying to make me feel better.

Alright, I'm just gonna give it to him & hope for the best. If he dislikes anything about it I'll just knit up a new one, no big deal. I'm going to make him a CD, too, I think, so that his only gift isn't a lame potentially-too-small hat...

See, this is why I have this blog, so I have somewhere to turn in times of crisis!

Anyway, Merry Christmas everyone!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Almost Christmas!

Oh look, again it's been a while! I can't say I've been knitting much, even with Christmas so close. The penguin is almost done, and my brother's hat was done but it seemed too small so I ripped back to before the decreases and haven't really don't anything on it since...

I'm not feeling too stressed, though. I realized that I won't be exchanging gifts with a number of my friends until a few days after the actual holiday, anyway. I'm not going to give my boyfriend his fingerless gloves until after the new year, since he's going away the day after Christmas and not getting back until then, so that gives me plenty of time to finish them. (This is really good because I haven't even started on the second one! Mainly it's because he's been around me lots of the time, and also because I was using those same needles on some secret presents for a few days there.)

So not a lot of knitting in this post, but I definitely have a recipe recommendation: Cream Cheese Chocolate Cupcakes! I made these last week and they were almost seemed too easy in light of how delicious they were. I gave most of them to my friend Jacob & his family and they were a big hit.

I don't know if I'll post again before (or on) the actual day, but in case I don't here's a big MERRY CHRISTMAS to those of you who celebrate it!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gifts & Food.

Yikes, again it's been a while since I posted! I have to admit I didn't knit a whole ton this week - first I had finals, then some of my friends came home from school for break, plus there was a snowstorm. So I had hanging out & sledding that needed to get done! But Brian's gift is halfway finished, at least:
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The thumb is a little funky (I haaaate doing thumbs!) but I'm overall pretty pleased. I am slightly nervous that they'll be too small for him, but we'll see...

Today I started & finished one ridiculously cute little gift, but it has to stay a secret until after the holidays!

A few days ago I finished my brother's hat, but it seemed too small so I ended up ripping back to before the decreases & picking up again there. I haven't worked on it in a while because ribbing = tedious.

I have been baking a little and cooking a lot, though. Last week my grandma gave me a copy of The New Laurel's Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition. I am obsessed with this cookbook, guys. I don't even really know why -- so far the recipes aren't really that great, but something about the awesome hippie vibe of the book just puts me in a good mood every time I look at it. And the use of the word "Cookery" in the title! Seriously, what a great word. From it I've made Cranberry Squash (not bad) and "Everybody's Muffins," the very name of which makes me laugh. Those had a good flavor (in a super-healthy whole wheat kind of way) but definitely didn't rise enough & were therefore much too dense. I am a failure as a bread baker, dudes. Nothing that needs to rise ever rises under my watch, no matter what I do or how high my hopes of delicious, rewarding homemade bread are (very high, for the record). I also suck at kneading. One day I will accept these facts and just move next door to a lovely bakery or something, but for now I will probably keep trying...

I also ate brussels sprouts for the first time in my whole life last week! Yeah, my parents had such bad childhood memories of being forced to eat them that they never even tried making me do it. In fact, they're the only food all the tough "I'll eat anything" manly men in my family say they can't stand. But this recipe looked really appealing, so I bought some & gave it a shot. I was nervous about it but they were actually delicious! For the record, I used a bit of pecorino romano (purchased on accident when I'd been looking for parmesan, ugh!) & a lot of mozzarella. Parmesan would've been better but they were still tasty & I'll definitely be using that recipe again soon.

On the less healthy side, I made oatmeal chocolate chip peanut butter cookies last week. They were excellent, if I do say so myself! Or half of them were, anyway. The other half went in the cookie jar right after I tossed some stale mint Milanos. They became infused with the flavor of mint in a way that can only be described as revolting, and so half the cookies were wasted. Lesson learned!

And now I'm thinking that, even though it's late, I probably need to whip up a batch of these because don't they look heavenly? Yes, yes they do!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

One gift (mostly) down, approximately 8 zillion to go!

Wow, have I really not posted since Tuesday?! Quite a bit has happened since then!

On Thursday, I finally checked out Neighborhood Knits. It's only a few minutes away from my school and I think it's good for both my bank account and my GPA that I didn't discover it until now. (This semester I had a nearly two-hour break on Thursdays, during which I usually caught up on reading & homework, but I'm sure I don't need to tell you that my desire to buy yarn could trump my desire to do either of those things any day.) Anyway, it was a lovely little shop with a good selection and everyone was very friendly, so I think I'll be going back quite a bit in the future. For now I have a gorgeous skein of Cascade 220 Heathers, with which I've started on my boyfriend's Xmas gift, Dashing. I meant to get a brown or green yarn but in the end I couldn't resist this kind of reddish orange-ish brownish gorgeousness. Ok, it's mostly reddish, but it reminds of foxes and autumn and other good things, and I'm pretty sure Brian will dig it, too, which is probably what matters most. As always, the photo doesn't quite do the color justice:


That's the first glove and it's grown significantly since that picture was taken yesterday afternoon. I am in love with this cable pattern, guys! For some reason I'm having real trouble doing it (yesterday was the first time I ever threw my knitting at the wall!) but it's coming out so beautifully that I don't care.

I knit a lot this weekend, and I'm making progress on all my gifts. Happily, I've just about finished the headband:

The ends still need to be sewn together (they're just safety-pinned there) but I might block it first. It looks fine on the head, but when it's off it rolls up like crazy. I wouldn't mind if it was just for me, but since it's for someone else I think I might put in the effort of blocking...maybe. Initially it actually was going to be for me, but over the course of knitting it I decided it needed to go to my friend Sara. For one thing, she looks far better in shades of red than I do, and for another she lives up in Marquette, where people really need warm winter stuff! (Not that we don't need it down here in the Lower Peninsula, too...) Also I think she'll appreciate a handmade gift and, well, she's one of my best friends in the world, so she deserves one too. :)

I'm a little embarrassed that it took me so long to finish such a simple project, but what can I say? I got bored with it & kept putting it aside. It happens.

Also, I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that I can't knit for everyone on my list in the amount of time left until Christmas, so I've come up with a nice alternative partly handmade gift that can fill that gap: embroidered stuff! I love embroidery & haven't done a new project in months, so I'm excited. Today I went out & got a few cheap, plain shirts. When my t-shirt stabilizer comes from Sublime Stitching I'll be able to go to town on them and hopefully make some really special and well-loved gifts.

I know lots of knitters complain about friends who don't appreciate all the effort that goes into handmade gifts, but I'm starting to fear I have the opposite problem. My friends are all the type who really love handmade stuff and I don't want any of them to be disappointed if I give them something that doesn't have a personal touch. Here's hoping I can get all those "personal touches" done in time!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Various & Sundry

Just a few little notes before I go to bed:
  • I bought some yarn today! The Michaels near me was having a 2-for-$7 sale on Patons Shetland Chunky & Classic Merino. As much as I prefer supporting local business...I'm on a budget & trying to make Xmas gifts for lots of people, so I really cannot argue with that kind of a deal! With the Shetland Chunky Tweed I started on a hat for my brother:

    It's much more blue & less purple in real life!

    When I first asked 3 of my younger brothers whether they'd wear hats I made them, the response was lots of laughter & exclamations of "no way!" Then the oldest of them, Mac, saw the hat I made my boyfriend, and every time I've spoken (or exchanged emails or Facebook messages or whatever) with him since then it's been "how's my hat coming?!" He's really excited about it, but it took me until now to find a good yarn. He wanted blue, and all the blues I found were just too damn girly or otherwise unsuitable. I'm still not sure about this looked good on the skein but I keep panicking and thinking he won't like it. Everyone I've showed it to has assured me otherwise, and I figure if he really hates it I can just keep it for myself (because I like it lots!) and take him yarn shopping so I can make another.

  • I'm planning on these mittens for my friend for Xmas. I'll probably start them within the next couple of days & I'm pretty excited! I may make myself a pair, too, once I'm done with all this holiday stuff, because I really love the way they look.

  • I'm eager to start on Dashing for my boyfriend's Xmas gift, but I kind of hate the yarn I bought for them (Reynolds Lite Lopi). I was completely seduced by the gorgeous, incredibly rich brown color + the nice price tag, but it's the itchiest stuff I've ever encountered and he hates itchy wool. I'm really not sure what to do, but I think I'm going to just buy something else. There's an LYS near school that I want to check out, anyway (Neighborhood Knits, to be exact), and this gives me the perfect excuse (not that I ever really need an excuse to drool over yarn, but it doesn't hurt)...

  • I wore the vest to school today and do you know how hard it was not to brag to complete strangers that I made it all by myself? Really, really hard! In my head every conversation was going like this:
    Unsuspecting Friend: Hey, how are you?
    Me: Pretty good, what about you?
    UF: Oh, pr--
    Me: DO YOU LIKE MY VEST?! I MADE IT MYSELF! WITH YARN AND POINTY STICKS! Isn't that just the most exciting and impressive thing you've ever heard?!
    UF: *backs slowly away*
    Me: Isn't it?!?
    UF: *runs for shelter*
    I'm very proud to say I restrained myself.

  • Knit Night was kind of a bummer tonight -- a very small group! I was by myself most of the time. Turns out there's a huge difference between knitting in a cafe all by your lonesome & knitting in a cafe with a group of fun & interesting people. One is lots of fun & one just kinda sucks. Some excellent people did show up eventually, but unfortunately for me I had to leave shortly after they all arrived! Oh well. It was my own fault for not being sure to bring enough money to pay for parking for longer than an hour (in fact, I only made it out of the structure because Kim was kind enough to loan me a quarter -- had she not, I guess I would've gotten a $30 ticket!). I suppose this is what I get for never using cash.

  • Does it bother anyone else that there isn't an apostrophe in "Michaels"? Probably not, but it drives me nuts.
Oh, look, I'm up too late yet again... Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Another FO: Fetching!

I finally finished my fingerless gloves today! The second one took me a while because it was sort of boring to do the same thing twice in a row. They look good, though, I think:

Again, I'm not crazy about the picot bind-off, and I think if I make them again I'll make them longer in both the wrist & finger areas. Still, they were a nice little project and I'm very pleasantly surprised to say they only used up a skein of my lovely Irish yarn!

The project details can be found at my Ravelry, of course, but here's what I learned from making these:
  • Magic Loop knitting, aka my new favorite thing in the whole world! I may still want to learn to use DPN's someday, but for now I'm just thrilled as can be with this method. It also seems much more portable than DPN's could possibly be, which is a definite plus in my book.
  • The cable cast-on, which I like quite a bit.
  • The magic of strategic end-weaving. What holes?
I think that's everything. :)

Now I need to really focus on the holiday knitting. (How many times am I going to say that before I actually do it?) First I need to go supply-shopping, though, since nothing I really want to make ever seems to use the millions of needle sizes I already have. Such is life, I suppose.