Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Torrance anyone?

Knitting life around here has fallen into a routine.

What routine you might ask?

Knit, knit, knit... 276 times
Purl, purl, purl ... 276 times
Knit, knit, knit... 284 times
Purl, purl, purl... 284 times

and so on, and so on. I'm really looking forward to separating for the sleeves on the Elizabeth Bennet cardigan. I have to get to 350-370 stitches to do that though and this stockinette stitch is slowwwww going. I'm looking foward to the cabling even more. By the time I get to that, the sweater will be practically done!

Changing the subject... anyone interested in going to Torrance on Sunday for the fiber festival? I've mentioned it to a few people at my knit group. If anyone else wants to meet me there, I'd love the company!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Did you eat fast food yesterday?

Fast food has become an ever-present part of our culture, with a number of negative consequences. Yesterday the University of La Verne brought Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, to campus for a lecture.

A very bright guy, very well spoken. Reading the book, I was amazed to learn that both McDonalds and Carl Jr. started right here in my own back yard (in San Bernadino technically). Makes me feel more responsible for the problems somehow.

While I have long recognized some of the big problems associated with corporate America, the book and lecture were great is helping me to consider other things that had never come to my attention before.

Have you read Fast Food Nation? You should. It will change the way you think about food in America. Of course I also think you should read the Omnivore's Dilemma ... another good analysis about corporate American's affect on the food chain. Think about it... where does your food come from, what happened to the earth and the animals to get that food to you, what did the workers who helped prepare that food endure in order for you to eat it? Deep stuff.

On the shallow end, did I mention that I cast on a new scarf yesterday? Laugh. Casting on a new sweater seemed irresponsible, but somehow casting on a scarf seemed just fine. I have a problem.

And want to see something really funny? A cabled bangle bracelet ... get this... $187.00.
Now if that doesn't condemn corporate America, I'm not sure what should. I'm sure the person who knit it earned about 25 cents.

Monday, October 29, 2007

S takes an uncustomary macho stand ..

... just for me of course!

Yep, S's fingerless mitts are now done. This morning, before 6am I'll point out, I asked the fellow if he'd doing a little modeling for me before he left for school. The generous soul that he is, he did (with only one snide glove comment). =]

All in all, I'm pleased with how these turned out. They are a bit wide through the back of the hand, but I'm going to soak them in hot water and see if we can't shrink them down just a little.

One of the funniest things about knitting these is I realized how much bigger S's hand are than mine.

They just swallow my hand up!

Fingerless Gloves by J Campbell
a little over 1 skein of Alpaca with a Twist Highlander (45% baby alpaca, 45% merino wool, 8% microfiber, 2% viscose)
in a natural color (Color 096, Lot 229
US size 3 dpns
cast on October 21, 2007
finished October 28, 2007

Great yarn, easy pattern. A little warmth for my love to take with him to Amsterdam (he's going for a school related trip in November... exciting!).


Despite getting the mitts done, it feels like this weekend just flew by! S and I did some work on the house ... painting the garage, weeding the yard. Really fun stuff. We also went to see another movie though (this really is a record), The Darjeeling Limited. Very quirky, very funny. I'd recommend it.

Issac and I also read a few blogs and played around on Ravelry a bit (he loves that mouse you know!).

But one of the most exciting things... I realized that I already have yarn to make a Rebecca pattern I've been eying!

On Saturday, I went into Knitwitz to buy a second skein of the alpaca to finish S's fingerless gloves and discovered a 50% off section and that everything else in the store was 15% off. Now this was good, but bad, if you know what I mean. I made one implulse buy and decided I'd go home, think about what I needed and then go back to the store yesterday.

This was a very good plan.

I spent some time on Ravelry looking for yarn substitutions for a couple of sweaters I've been planning to make and considering what Knitwitz sells. Now I don't know about you, but I find substituting yarns to be very, very challenging. Just when I think I may be narrowing in on something, it all falls apart.

This was my experience yesterday and just when I was about to give up, I realized that one of the yarns I showed for my mock-Rhinebeck post should work for the Rebecca (issue 32) Cable Sweater #25 pattern. I bought this magazine/booklet during my visit to Oklahoma last month and have just be considering it. With the possibility of sale yarn, it suddenly rose to a higher threat level.

So yesterday afternoon I did a bit of swatching.

Eureka... I think it will work! Now of course, I believe swatches lie so I won't believe it until the sweater's done, but I think I have gauge. The only problem is that I think I'll have to order more yarn. I bought this for a Fitted Knits pattern but have since lost interest. That sweater was knit in a much looser gauge and so needed a bit less yarn.

Hmmm.... should I order now or just wait and see? Should I cast on for this sweater now or make myself work more on my current sweater WIP first? The dilemmas!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The trip I didn't take to Rhinebeck

It has been great fun reading everyone's blog entries over the past week to hear about, and see, the fun that occurred at Rhinebeck this year. I've seen some pretty fantastic photos at both Betharoopie's and Michelle's.

This year, like all previous years, I did not attend Rhinebeck and I had a great time not doing it.
Instead, I stayed at home, drank tea, did a little knitting, and watched a few fires.

Not going to Rhinebeck, I also scored no new yarn or fiber! Wanna see what I didn't buy this weekend (but rather the fibery goodness that is in my stash)?

Just look at that selection! And the best thing... I didn't have to fight any crowds, watch a guy show off by riding around on two horses, or eat any deep-fried 1000-calorie-per-serving fried artichokes to get it!

Even without shopping with all my blogger friends, I still have a full sweater's worth of this Lana Grossa Royal Tweed. I've been thinking about the textured tunic from Fitted Knits for this stuff.

Even though I didn't get to see all those cute little alpaca, sheep, and bunny faces in person, I still have another sweater's worth of this Bam Boo from Classic Elite Yarns.

Just like all those fanatic sock knitters who were at Rhinebeck, I do have a lovely assortment of sock yarn to show.

This is some yummy Lorna's Laces in Amethyst Stripes I got in Monrovia at Unraveled.

I also have this Lorna's Laces in Shadow that I purchased from Cookie A in one of her de-stashing exercises.

This yarn, Wick from Knit One Crochet Too in color 467, I'm definitely looking forward to trying out... 53% soy, 47% polypropylene. This I found at Two Old Divas, just a few short blocks from my home. Should knit up into some fine socks.

And this Cascade Fixation (from Knitwitz, home of my local SnB) should also make some great socks, maybe something from Knitting Lingerie Style.

And last in the sock yarn division, Trekking. You know, as I look at this yarn again I can easily see why I thought it would make good socks. Maybe it needs to come off that in progress pile and into serious knitting rotation.

Of course, not going to Rhinebeck also let me take a look at all the other fiber goodness I've acquired recently.

There are the basic wools that came with my Louet drop spindle starter kit (the brown, black, and cream at the top left of the photo).

And of course there is this great 50% BFL, 50% Alpaca blend (BlissFul) from Knitifacts that I got at the Santa Monica Fiber Fest in August.

And last but not least, there's this fabulous natural color Bluefaced Leicester and a dark brown Corriedale that I got at Stick & Stone Fiberarts when I purchased Joy.

Wow! What a sight it is!

I have great yarn and fiber to show for not travelling and I saved myself a bucket of money! I will miss not having met all the blogger during Blogger Bingo and hope that another time we'll meet in person, but at least we'll all have the memories of not being together at Rhinebeck 2007!

Thanks to Karrie for suggesting we all share our non-Rhinebeck related weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fingers... who needs fingers?

The last few days have been a whirlwind. Monday night is late because of class. Tuesday night though I came home and knit...

I'm pleased to say that these are coming together very well.

Stylish hmm?

I had hoped to finish up glove #1 last night but then ended up spending another late night at work. The good news there is I at least made good progress on that non-knitting project.

Tonight... we'll tonight we're going to see about those extra little fingers.

Tomorrow... my mock Rhinebeck trip!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm starting to know how the dinosaurs felt

It's now snowing ash in La Verne where I work and Pomona where I live. The sky has this weird almost orange cast to it (although not the orange glow of fire... the fires are all still very far away from us). The sun's still up there, but the smoke is really giving it a run for its money. It looks more like the moon, but it's blood red. You just can't really get the color from the photo.

Strange times.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A quiet weekend

This weekend was a bit quiet for me ... I came home from work Friday with a bit of a bug. I'm pleased to say that a bazillion cups of echinacea tea later, I'm feeling much better.

With the general lethargy that comes with "sick" I didn't do much on the knitting front (or any other front for that matter). I did, though, make a bit of progress on Elizabeth.

So far, gauge looks good (even though I dropped down two needle sizes and it still seems crazy to me that I'm knitting a sweater on 3s) and the fabric is coming out nicely. I'm using the called for yarn which has a bit of angora in it so the fabric is a bit fuzzy. Definitely a bit of that blurry look that you see in romantic shots of leading ladies to take away the rough edges. Surely that can only help right?

Sunday afternoon I decided, in the goal of not being overly "finish" focused, to cast on for S's fingerless gloves.

So far, so good here too. I really like this yarn, Alpaca with a Twist Highlander. It's 45% baby alpaca, 45% merino, 8% microfiber, and 2% viscose. It's soft to work with and I love the tweedy look that I'm getting with the yarn as it works up. I think these should be quite functional and hide the inevitable dirt that gloves will pick up.

On other fronts, I'm pleased to say that so far we are safe from the southern cal wildfires. The news here is something to watch though. The closest fire from us was about 10 miles away... but over all city development so no real danger of travelling this far. There's still a pretty large fire in Irvine where S goes to school. He went in this morning. The air quality was so bad he had to come back home. At 8:30am he said it looked like twilight and he said there was soot all over campus. Bad things people, very bad. I'll be thinking about all those people still in danger's way tonight.

Last... can't wait to read some Rhinebeck scoop... I'm hoping to have time tomorrow to check out some blogs.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It isn't nice to fool with Mother Nature

A few days ago, in reviewing WIPs, I made a comment that one of my current projects is for a baby and mom-to-be and that I would have plenty of time to finish it before the baby arrived, unless mother nature played a cruel trick. Do you ever feel like perhaps you've tempted fate?

Yesterday morning I got an email saying that my friend had her baby yesterday morning. Good for her! Not so good for having the gift done.

So last night I did alot of this ...

Sterling was only mildly interested as he got a new one of these...

But by the end of the evening... baby bolero done! I think Mr. Pumpkin does a marvelous modeling job. (And lest you be concerned, this is actually a very small pumpkin, not the big carving size... laugh).

The "small, oh isn't it small and cute" view...

Definitely a good pattern with good yarn, Lion Brand's Organic Cotton. One more baby gift to go... I won't tell you how long I have left to do that one with Mother Nature listening, but I assure you I will be getting started on it right away. =]

Baby Bolero from One Skein: 30 Quick Projects to Knit and Crochet by Leigh Radford
2 skeins of Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton (100% organic cotton)
in Almond (Art 480, Color 098, Lot A6433)
US size 8 and 9 circulars
cast on ~October 13, 2007
finished October 18, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Last night my local SnB met and we celebrated the one year anniversary of the group. It's been a small but fun group.

Recently I have found myself able to attend only about once a month or even only every other month. The group meets once a week, alternating monday and tuesday nights. Since I teach on mondays that means that half the meetings are out. Every other meeting on tuesdays is in Monrovia, which is just a little farther than I want to drive. That means that I can only go once per month typically. Last month I was in Oklahoma, the month before I took a spinning lesson. You see how it goes.

This month though... I was happy to put it on my calendar and protect my time so I could go to group and boy did we have a good time.

Jenean, the great girl she is, made us a super cake.

Have you ever seen anything so cute?

And if that weren't enough, Jenean brought gifts to raffle off. Lydia won a market bag

and Saya won a frame (here in a lovely gift bag).

I think I mentioned that I had quite a good time making some stitch markers for myself. I think I even made the comment that I needed to find some more knitting friends to make more for. Well don't those people above look like good knitting friends?

Yep, more door prizes for attendees. I never had so much fun giving things away!

I think the class was even more fun because we had a little impromptu cabling class with, if you can believe it, me as the instructor! [laugh]. Now I hardly think of myself as ready to teach a knitting class but I figured people want to know how, surely I could at least wing the basics. We didn't do anything fancy, but I think everyone left realizing it was something they could do. Love to preach the knitting gospel.

So a fun, exciting class with lessons learned. Of course I should also point out another part of the fun of the evening for me was that I also came away as quite a beneficiary of the generosity. See the evidence...

Lydia was so kind as to bring in some old magazines and I scooped up the Vogue knits... love the cables. I won the "Not tonight darling, I'm knitting" book in Jenean's raffle. The owner of the shop where we meet, Knitwitz, also gave out gifts... the lovely padded needle sleeve. The rest... well let's just say I felt compelled to bring home a little bit more... some yarn for fingerless gloves for S and a new pattern for future consideration.

A good night for sure.

And the s on the 'versaries in the title; this is my 200th post. Fun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

WIP roundup

Last night, just before I left work at the late hour of about 9pm, I checked my email to find the most recent installment of Knitting Daily. The topic of the day... UFO and WIPs (unfinished objects and works in progress for non-knitting family members).

As I look around casa de LizKnits I feel pretty good about the state of my projects. As you can tell from my sidebar, I have 5 projects on the needles. Only three are works in progress, in my humble opinion. All are getting some regular attention.

The baby bolero is coming along nicely... should be done before the baby is (unless Mother Nature plays cruel tricks on the mom).

Elizabeth is also developing nicely. I like laying her out this way... you get a sense of the neckline and the developing body.

And clapotis... well she hasn't gotten any smaller! She is at about 2 foot and I anticipate that she'll be about 5 foot long when I run out of yarn (which is my goal). You may recall that I shortened the width of this project to match the amount of yarn that I purchased in Maine (alpaca from the farm we toured). She'll be more of a stole than a scarf when done.

Those other 2 projects over there... I'll just label them UFO. They aren't in progress certainly. One day I'll get back to them. For now, three projects seems comfortable though.

Excitement today... knitty group is tonight. We are having an anniversary party for the 1 year birthday of the group. Fun!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Putting thoughts into action

In keeping with my last post, I'm happy to say that I am enjoying my knitting, my slow, thoughtful, knitting.

Don't the cute little stitch markers I made look nice on Elizabeth?

I also decided to go ahead and cast on the next baby gift I need to complete... my second Baby Bolero from One Skein.

I have two co-workers who will be having babies soon. The first in about two weeks, the second in about six weeks. My first bolero was very well received by its recipients so I thought I'd try it again. Lion's Brand Organic Cotton... very soft.

And finally, S and I made it to another movie... we are on a roll! This time it was The Jane Austin Book Club. Let me tell you this film is suprising full of knitting content! Bernadette (Kathy Baker's character) is knitting in at least half of her scenes. More importantly, Jocelyn (Maria Bello's character) wears some amazing sweaters and there are some great afghans in the film too. I tried to find a picture of the cream colored cable sweater that Jocelyn wears in one scene because I'd love to knit it... no luck so far. If anyone sees anything about it, I'd love a heads up.

Seeing beautiful knits is inspirational.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Philosophies of knitting & Elizabeth Bennet

Now that FiFi is done and Urchin has croaked, I have a small pile of WIPs I could revisit. Clapotis is moving along nicely (she's about 2 foot long now) but I think she's one for filler knitting. You know, a bit here, a bit there. Swallowtail is a beautiful pattern but I still don't feel quite up to the high concentration task that she will be. Those trekking socks... well I've really only swatched and knit about 5 rows on those so far so that's not very compelling.

The weather is getting cooler... maybe it really is time to get the wool back out. As I mentioned before, I did buy yarn for a couple of Fitted Knits patterns back in the spring. I thought that cooler weather was needed before starting those. Has it gotten cool enough?

A couple of posts back I kidded myself about casting on for Urchin in that at least she wasn't a long sleeve wool sweater. I think this really has to do with some issues I have, which were highlighted in several comments on my SnBLosAngeles listserv yesterday.

Jody posted
"Seriously, the point of knitting is being happy (at least for me), and the pursuit of happiness is not a sign of moral degeneration. If casting things on makes you happy, why not? and half finished projects don't really take up any more room than unstarted ones do."

Dana then responded:
"That was very profound and sorta made my morning. .... I think sometimes I get very goal oriented and set deadlines for my knitting, basically the way I treat everything else in my life (job, errands, etc) and sometimes it can take the fun out of it a little bit. Knitting is the one thing I do that is for me and only me, whether I am making gifts or not, the process is still for me. I love the idea of casting on however many and working on however many projects because it is the work that is the point, not the finished product."

Can I ever relate!

With large projects I frequently finding myself kniting to finish rather than knitting to knit. I also place pressures on myself to finish things fast. Why? Who says anything needs to be done quickly? Leisure is good! Stopping to smell the roses is fantastic! Why do I feel that I'm going to be judged negatively if I'm slowly working away on the same project for some time. Sure, you guys are going to see the same old, same old on the blog, post after post, but isn't that OK? Isn't it alright that sometimes there will not be new knitting blog fodder?

But... yep here's the big but... I like to read blogs where there are new things, projects being done, new knitting fodder. Hmmm.... perfectionism raises its head again. I wonder how many bloggers really have a new project every week. I know I was suprised a couple of weeks ago when Cara documented that she's only knit 21 pairs of socks, ever. I somehow had this perception that she had done soooo many -- was oh so proficient. I have a terrible tendency to see the glass half empty when it come to anything I'm doing and half full (or completely full) for others. But then isn't that a human tendency*? [Of course the fact that I expected more is probably evidence that I overestimate everyone dramatically; I could have thought "oh my... 21 pairs that's alot!].

So maybe it is OK for me to work on several different things at once, making even slower progress on each one. More variety for me ... maybe less possibility for project boredom?

So in this spirit, I'm proud to admit that two nights ago I swatched.

Last night, yep, I cast on ... the Elizabeth Bennet cardigan from Fitted Knits.

I make a vow to myself not to feel pressured to knit continuously until it's done, not to feel pressure to knit faster and more just to get it done, not to feel uncomfortable about blogging about small progress. I vow to enjoy the knit, not just to look forward to the finished project (although I know up front this will be the hardest vow to keep).

I am looking forward to working on this sweater. I purchased the called for yarn (got it on sale in a color discontinuation deal) and find it very soothing. I'm a little wary going into the sweater... not too many people seem to have completed this project thus far. Is it because it looks intimidating? It did to me when I first bought the yarn. Is it because it's hard to get gauge (I seem not to get the same gauge as Stephanie with any of her patterns even using the recommended yarn)? Do people not like the look of the sweater? I do so I guess that part doesn't matter.

Concerns aside, I've made my best guess about the size to knit and have started the journey. I'm hoping the pattern is accurate (without the security of previous completed projects I do think about this). I'm going to enjoy the travels no matter when I get to my destination.

Bon voyage!

*Fundamental attribution erroris the tendency for people to over-emphasize personality-based explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing the role and power of situational influences on the same behavior. In this context I would assume that others are great and miraculous knitters, getting tremendous amounts done even while balancing a million other life tasks. I, on the other hand, must just be a dud because I have more things on my to-do list than my done list.

Or maybe it's reverse optimism bias. You know research shows that depressed people more accurately assess their circumstances and situations. Non-depressed people just overestimate how great their lives are.

= }-

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Scary Chicken

Have I ever mentioned that we have a scary chicken in our neighborhood?

During the day time, he's just a friendly advertisement for a local fried chicken place.

Come sun down... very scary. There's something about a 6 foot rooster, underlit, at night, that doesn't put calm into your soul.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Want to see something funny?

OK... that's not really the funny part ... although it is a bit funny.

Before the funnyness, a BIG DISCLAIMER!

I think the pattern for Urchin is great. It was an easy knit, a well written pattern, and should make a great hat. In fact, I'll probably knit it again.

This is a funny story not about urchin, but about a foolish girl who chose the wrong yarn for the right pattern.

So here's the back story. I saw the pattern for urchin online when it first came out. I printed it out and put it in my pile for things to consider knitting at some time in the future. The trick of course was that I didn't know where I'd find the called for thick-n-thin yarn and I wasn't yet so motivated to knit the hat that I considered finding it online.

One day several weeks later I visited my local giant hobby supply store in search of knitting unrelated materials. While walking down the yarn isle, which let's face it I feel compelled to do even if I don't really want to buy any yarn, I noticed a think and thin yarn on the top shelf. Hmmm... 100% acrylic -- bad... soft and fluffy -- good.

Well there goes the story... I came home with the yarn and whipped it up into urchin over three short evenings of knitting. You of course know the ending considering the fact I knitted the hat up in acrylic when the yarn called for was an expensive designer yarn right?

Want to see the humiliation?

Looks a little toadstool like hmm? Maybe if I try to slouch it off to the right?

What about a bit less slouch?

How bout the upright look?

Maybe even the chef's hat look?

The left slouch?

Bottom line... the 100% acrylic just doesn't do the french beret slouch.

Can you guess where urchin is now?

The moral of the story... don't cheapskate out. It's one skein of nice yarn... splurge or you'll end up with a toadstool on your head. =]

Urchin by Ysolda
2 skeins of Mernat Max (100% acrylic)
in Natural (Color 95008)
US size 7 circulars
cast on Oct 4, 2007
finished October 6, 2007