Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Look here, if you dare. Nicky Epstein has lost her mind. She's even designed a felted bag for Bjork!

Attack of the Creeping Crud

My outlaws came in town on Saturday and just left. Unfortunately, Bean came down with the Creeping Crud yesterday, which sort of spoiled plans for enjoying a sunny day. She's got a big fever and a juicy cough. At least she feels better than yesterday. You know a child is sick when they ask for a nap. Poor Beanie.

I've got the cough as well, of course.

The whole stay was a bit soon after the week at Christmas. They have been here for 10 days out of the last 37. And,
they'll be back in March at the end of their snowbird trip. The standard South Padre joke in February is "What does Iowa stand for?" Answer: "Idiots out walking around." I'm very lucky to have nice inlaws, but ...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Talk about a bender

No, not me.

This morning, my husband and I ran a few errands and then decided to stop for a light lunch. We forgot that it was Sunday brunch, looked at the line, and decided that, rather than wait 45 minutes for a table, we'd just eat in the bar.

Now, I'm not opposed to an "eye-opener" on Sunday, as evidenced by my morning enjoyment of tasty margarita with my bowl of tortilla soup. I've been a bartender and I've hung out with musicians, so I've known a bunch of people who could hold quite a bit of liquor. But, I don't remember ever seeing anything like the spectacles this Sunday morning would hold.

First off, there was a bachelorette party. A bachelorette party at brunch in a Mexican restaurant on Sunday morning. Sure, there's free champagne* at brunch. And their waiter was fetching things like a huge bowl of whipped cream and cherries; not unusual bachelorette fare. But, dude, 11am in the damn morning? Lame.

And then we hit the other end of the spectrum, also colliding with Lame. About 15 minutes after we sat down, a couple in their late 40s came in sporting the 80s rocker fresh out of jail look. In 45 minutes, they had three rounds. Of double-tall vodkas. And a few shots. At 11am, Sunday morning. We're talking probabaly 8 ounces of vodka plus shots each. In 45 minutes. Damn, that's not hardcore. That's just, well, lame.

*Champagne in this case means Wycliff Twist and Pop. Yes, there is a carbonated wine-like beverage by that name. I didn't even know they made champagne with a Stelvin closure (aka a screwtop). EEEUUUWWW! Hence, the margarita. Herradura Silver. Freshly squoze juice. Very tasty.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The thing I hate

Weaving in ends on a bulky yarn sweater.

I love seaming. LOVE IT. but weaving in those damn ends is torture. Although, GI Jane was on TV this morning. Nothing like a schlockfest for gruntwork. Especially a schlockfest with the scrumptious Viggo Mortensen.

Hip Hop is seamed and has most of the ends woven in. Pipkin is, well, bridesmaiding it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

At the top, you can see a preview of the almost- finished Pipkin. I have to weave in all of the ends and give her a good steam before she'll be ready for her public.

Oh, and I have to find buttons. The buttons, however, will have to wait until I finish Hip Hop - I don't want to make two trips to the button store.

I love this sweater. It came out like a short, boxy jacket - very good fit. I'll post a review of the project and yarn when I put up the FO pic.

At the bottom, you see that I have begun the interminable process of finishing the Hip Hop Coat. Right now, I'm knitting the collar. I'm not looking forward to picking up eleventymillion stitches for the button bands. It's all I can do not to cast on for another project, but I'm trying to stay strong.

ETA: I have no idea why the hell this picture is so dark but I'm too lazy to fix it since the objects aren't finished anyway.

ETA2: It was parent observation day today at Bean's ballet class and she kept insisting I do the same foot movements and then telling the teacher, loudly, that I was helping. Gee, thanks a ton sweetie.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I love my mailman!

Today was a bonanza mail day at Chez Casa Liz.

UPS bashed on the door and dropped off two packages.

Package The First

I consider shoe shopping an Olympic sport!

Package the Second was a bit unexpected.

At first, I thought it was a Better Pal package until I opened it and found two skeins of KSH.

I renewed my Rowan membership last Thursday. Talk about speedy service!

And, best of all

What could be better than red leopard clogs you ask?

A divine Dalai gift from my bestest Better Pal.

A giant Chinese takeout purse.

I have already transferred the contents of my purse to this one.

Inside is three skeins of gorgeous recylcled silk yarn, a bag pattern for said yarn, and a ton of goodies like buddha zipper pulls and the fun Buddha squeeze toy with his cell phone and coffee.

It's zen-rific!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

To frog or not to frog

That is the question.

Several people left comments on my Cross Coat Dilemma that they would frog. And, normally, I'd have beat you to it. There is a problem, however, with frogging intarsia. All those crosses? Yeah, they are all individuals sections of yarn. And I don't relish frogging and then figuring out what to do with all those sections of maybe 5 yards apiece (max).

I did like Julia's suggestion of turning it into cushions. That is a strong frontrunner.

My decision for right now is to knit one of the sleeves. Then I am going to seam the back and one front and sleeve up and get a better idea of the true fit of the garment. Yes, the probability is frumpy and dumpy, but who knows, maybe I'll end up with comfy and cute. I do the "knit half the sweater" trick all the time with sweaters I design, so I can get a fairly accurate idea of the drape. And, if the result is frumpy/dumpy, well, on to Plan B.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Elvis lives!

Yesterday, my husband took The Bean with him to Home Depot. She asked him to put in an Elvis CD and he complied. As the strains of "Suspicious Minds" filled the air, she had a screaming hissy fit. "Noooooooooooo! I want Mommy's Elvis."

Mommy Elvis...

Child has good taste!

I live in a neighborhood where there are tons of children. This means I get invited to lots of parties that are the kiddo equivalent of Tupperware. The latest craze is music parties. I received an invitation that stated "Music turns kids on. Flip the switch!" My first thought was, "Are you kidding? I need to know how to flip the switch OFF!"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

That'll teach you to knock on doors

Yesterday afternoon, my knitting time (coincidentally, The Bean's nap time) was rudely interrupted by two well-scrubbed college students who wanted to ask me some questions about my relationship with Christ.

Now, I'm pretty far off from being a Holy Roller nor do I have any truck with anyone who bashes other religions in order to promote their own. I minored in Asian studies and did some graduate level work in religion. This means that I've read the Koran, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and a few other major religious works. So, I am armed with enough religious knowledge to freak the hell out of well-scrubbed earnestines.

I let them ask their questions and then asked them if they'd read any religious works other than the Bible. No shock that the answer was, "No." I asked them what they would do if someone knocked on their door to "minister" to them and told them that everything they believed in was wrong and that [insert religion here] was the only true path to heaven. How would they feel about that? I told them that it was very interesting that the message they were preaching sounded suspiciously like "If you aren't of European descent, you're going to hell." And lo and behold, they both looked at me like those thoughts had never occured to them in their lives. And the guy told me that he was really glad they had talked to me. The girl just had that deer in the headlights look on her face.

If you knock on my door, you'd better be prepared for my answers.

Or, for me to ask for your address so I can come tell you all about
my church...

Consider the Cross Coat

This is the infamous UFO of Shame: the Cross Coat.

It's an intarsia sweater in a Greek Cross pattern with 11 (yes, eleven) color changes.

When I started knitting this, it was 1991 and styles were quite different.

About a week ago, I re-read the pattern and took some measurements and, frighteningly, I am knitting a medium. Which translates to the
50 1/2 inch size. This sweater is also 35" length and a drop-shoulder sweater

The Cross Coat was my first major colorwork project. For some reason, the women teaching the class told me I needed a medium. I didn't really understand sizing then. I'm only 5'2" on my tallest days. I know we wore things big and floppy back then, but 50 inches seems a bit egregious, even for 1991. I knit mostly smalls these days so it will fit quite differently than my normal knits.

I am faced with a dilemma. The pattern does require time and effort to get all those color blocks right and the eleventymillion ends woven in. I have a back and one front complete. I spent a boatload on the yarn - mostly Manos. It's a nice sweater. But is it a nice sweater for me?

Do I put in the time to finish the sweater, knowing that I look best in set-in sleeves and a closer fit?
Or do I felt the damn thing and make a fabulous bag out of it? There are a lot of knits out there. Do I stick with this one? Or, do I get a divorce from it and start my Color on Color from Scarf Style (now there would be something for the Knitting Olympics)?

Is there a point at which we should abandon process for practicality? Or should I just suck it up?

Anybody know where I can find a pair of skinny black leggings to wear under this sucker?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Burnt Peeps

I finished the first Jaywalker sock!

I really like the sock. The pattern is no harder than a basic stockinette sock, but it really pays off in making the most of variegated sock yarns.

This one is Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in the Old Rose colorway.

I also cast on for another pair of Jaywalkers. They are like potato chips - can't have just one...

I have been itching to cast on the wild Koigu that my Better Pal sent me.

I had a feeling this colorway would work with the Jaywalker pattern and I was right.

The colorway I can only describe as Burnt Peeps. Bright, almost neon; turquoise, pink and yellow interspersed with variegated blacks. I'm loving it! Talk about your 80s "punk" sock. This one hits the mark pretty well. I'm going to break out the Go Gos to dance around in these when they are finished!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Not a finisher

I have three projects waiting for finishing:

1.) Cabled bag. Needs a lining. Then must be seamed and handles attached.

2.) Hip Hop Coat. Seam shoulders and knit collar. Knit endless button bands. Seam damn huge sweater. Find fsking buttons. Attach buttons.

3.) I don't remember what three is but I remember there is something evil lurking in the depths of my knitting basket. It might be Fiery Bolero. The ribbing on that sucker makes the Hip Hop Coat button bands look like a walk in the park.

For some reason, I have no desire to finish any of these projects quite yet.

In the last week or so, I have seen a number of discussions of process vs product, knitting motivations, etc. on various knit blogs. I think this is a normal sort of "New Year's" evaluation of one's knitting progress and what we'd like to change versus what we like just fine.

I have always been the kind of knitter who had to have a number of projects going at one time. Lately, I have one sweater and one sock going and that's it. Sort of a shock to my system. I think that is why I can't finish anything. I'm suffering from an advanced form of startitis. Project finitum interruptus.

Is this an honest evolution in my knitting style? Or is this just a temporary shift in my universe? I have a feeling that February is going to be for Finishing and that March Madness will include startitis the likes of which the knitting world has rarely seen.

Even wierder, I haven't pooped out on the Stashalong!


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

That's a big bottle

A is for alcohol! For the ABC-Along.

This is a very large bottle of sake (2 litres) that was presented to us on December 30th after we went to dinner at our favorite sushi bar.

Barbie is included for scale. Beverages that dwarf Barbie are a bit scary.

We now have to figure out a meal to go with the sake and a large number of people to invite over because, while I could probably put a large dent in that bottle by myself, I don't really want to spend the next day or so waiting for my head to 'splode.

The knitting frenzy seems to have abated a bit. I'm not sure who's needles I was channeling, but boy howdy did I get some knitting done over the last 5 or 6 days. Oddly, my hands do not feel as if they might fall off. I'm going to work on one of the sleeves for Pipkin a bit today, but I also have lunch plans with my husband and am going to just poke around a bit before picking up Bean. I've got cards tonight so I'm doubting that I'm going to accomplish much in the knitting vein. However, I did get alot done in the bill-paying vein, so it's not a wasted day...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Gauge schmauge

I was merrily knitting along on Pipkin and had just started the armhole decreases when I decided to check my gauge.


It's a bit wide.

To be honest, it's about an inch-and-a-half wider than it should be. Which means that the whole sweater is going to have around 3 extra inches of ease.

I should go down a needle size, because I'm already knitting the smallest size of the sweater, so I can't decrease that without actual math and I don't feel like doing math today.

To complicate matters, my size 7 needles are currently occupied by the back of the Tinkerbell sweater for Bean. I had completed the hem, knitted part of the back and not liked the fabric, so I ripped it back and switched down to 7s and abandoned ship. If I'm going to co-opt the needles for another project, the least I can do is finish the back.

Mission accomplished.

So, I do the responsible thing and swatch on 7s for Pipkin. And I can barely get the needle through the fabric. Way too tight. And the fabric looks like hell.

Crunch time. The responsible knitter says rip the sucker and do the math. The Bad-Ass Knitter says, "Heckwithit." and completes the back so she can compare it to a real-life sweater she likes. Because I don't trust that damn measuring tape.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Five Easy Pieces

I finished knitting the pieces of the Hip Hop Coat this weekend.

And, no, I did not spend the whole weekend knitting.

I even threw a dinner party Saturday night!

This was one of those knits that just flew off the needles. Said needles being size 10.5 didn't hurt but I think the size of the needles was compensated by the hugeness of the coat. I still have a boatload of finishing to do so I think I'll work on Pipkin and the Jaywalker socks for a bit before moving back to Hip Hop.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Hip Hop Coat. A sleeve and a front. I'm starting the back today. I am knitting in sort of a weird order because I wanted to make sure I have enough yarn and that my slightly smaller gauge won't pose a problem.

The colors are fairly true with the exception that one of the blues is really almost black.

I finished Cat on Wednesday, but have not yet taken a picture due to an attack of uglification upon my person. Sleep makes one much more attractive. No sleep, well, you get the idea...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I'm making huge progress on Cat. I should finish it today. This is a fun pattern and I'm loving the Noro Iro. It's soooo soft. I wish they made a lighter weight version. It's much nicer than Silk Garden.

The pattern picture used a colorway with more color variation but it had quite alot of green in it which did not appeal to me. This colorway has more brown and less pink than I originally thought, but I like it alot.

Once Cat is complete, I cast re-start the Hip Hop Coat. I'm moving up a needle size on that one.

And here is the progress on the first Jaywalker sock. Hopefully, I'll finish that one this weekend! Despite my dislike of green, I like these socks. Just don't ask me to put green next to my face!

Hopefully, it'll be sunnier tomorrow and I can get some better photos than these dark and dingy ones!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

No one expects the Stashquisition!

I decided, since I have purchased a veritable s**tload of yarn in the last couple of weeks of the year, that I should join the Stashalong.

Here is the list of projects I hope to work on. Notice that the word "complete" has not been mentioned.

Project: Hip Hop Coat from Winter 05 IK
Yarn: Muench Naturwolle in Bombay
Yarn purchased: I think it was March 05

Project: Jaywalker socks from Magknits
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Old Rose
Yarn Purchased: Fall 05

Project: Cat from 05 Naturally Noro book
Yarn: Noro Iro color 6
Yarn Purchased: December 31, 05 (BYS - Big Yarn Sale)

Project: Tinkerbell Sweater from Miss Bea's Dressing Up
Yarn: Cotton Ease in bubblegum pink, pale pink, and white
Yarn Purchased: Spring 05 - right before Lion Brand discontinued CE

Project: Pipkin from Naturally Noro
Yarn: Noro Blossom color 6
Yarn Purchased: BYS Dec 31

Project: Leftovers vest from Knitty
Yarn: Mostly Araucania Nature Wool in various colors
Yarn Purchased: at various points over the last 2 or 3 years

Project: Vintage Velvet from Scarf Style
Yarn: Touch Me
Yarn Purchased: 2004

And the biggie:
Project: Cross Coat
Yarn: various including lots of Manos (11 colors)
Yarn Purchased: 1991 No, that is not a typo. This is my oldest UFO and by God I'm going to finish it this year if it kills me.

I think I'll be busy...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Last Minute Liz

Friday, I decided that I really didn't want to just stay home on New Year's Eve, so I called a few people and threw a little New Year's Eve party. 6 adults + 5 children + 3 bottles of champagne + 2 temper tantrums = 1 damn good party.

While I was at the grocery store on Saturday, I ran into a friend of mine and invited her and her husband and their daughter to dinner tonight.

I love last minute parties. I think I need to write a book called Last Minute Entertaining with menu ideas and things you can throw together for a reasonably low cost and minimal effort but maximum punch.

Tonight's menu:
Steamed dumplings with 2 sauces (a soy-sesame sauce and a sweet chili sauce)
Pad Thai
Lemon Tart

If you have any kind of Asian market near you, you can buy a huge bag of frozen dumplings for under 5 bucks. They make a great appetizer and are worth keeping on hand for appetizer emergencies. Same with the edamame. The sauces are also commercially prepared as well and can be used as marinades or sauces for stir-fry.

Pad Thai
Super easy. I've posted the recipe before. The most labor intensive part of the whole effort is peeling and deveining the shrimp. And, since I make my husband do that part, it's really a snap!

Lemon Tart

OK, that requires a bit of effort. However, my grocery squeezes juices in store, thus giving me access to fresh lemon juice for only about 50 cents more than it would cost for me to buy lemons and juice them myself. So, again, the hard part is done for me. I do believe that if you are going to put forth some effort into a meal, the biggest payoff is dessert. Nothing impresses people more or tastes better than home cooked desserts.

Add a couple of bottles of wine and, for around $60, you have a really nice meal for 6 people. (Yes, that's including the wine.) You can throw a dinner party for less, but I find that I'd rather spend an extra $10 or $15 and have to not work as hard than slave all day and be exhausted by the time the guests show up. Nothing poops a party faster than a host who just wants everyone to go home so she can go to sleep!

I did have a huge Christmas Open House one year where a hardcore group of guests pretty much set up camp in my living room. The stated hours of the party were 5pm to 9pm. At 10pm, I cleaned up all the food and drinks and they didn't get the hint. I made coffee. I turned off the music and most of the lights. Finally, around 11pm, I put on my pajamas and went into the living room and loudly announced, "Thank you for coming and thank you for going!" They got the message at that point.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Year of the Sock

I've been knitting alot the last few days. I finished the Wavy Wrap (blocking), the last pair of Gardening Mitts (given), and a really cute cabled bag for me. I also started the Hip Hop coat from the Winter IK. Yes, I should post pictures, but I'm all about lazy today and it's simply not going to happen!

I've been thinking about New Year's Resolutions. I rarely make them because I am not too upset with how my life goes. Yes, I have as many flaws as the next person and, yes, I try to improve on them, but it's sort of pointless to make a RESOLUTION to improve. It'll either happen or it won't.

I also thought about knitting resolutions. I've been doing a pretty good job of not adding to the stash. That's not to say that I don't make alot of new yarn purchases. But, I've been knitting the new projects as soon as I buy them. I'd like to get a few big projects out of my stash and, hopefully, not add anything else big as replacement.

I think it's going to be The Year of the Sock. I learned how to knit socks last year and am really finding them to be excellent projects. My vow for the year is to always be actively working on a sock. Actively meaning that I work on it at least once a week regardless of the other projects I have on the needles.

My other knitting goal is to knit more things for The Bean. She's getting old enough to really be interesting in my knitting.

My only other resolution is to hope that this year is just as much fun as last year with a large reduction in the pain-in-the-butt aspects of last year!