Sunday, September 25, 2005  

The Weekend In Which I Walk a Dog and a Cat, at the Same Time

Surprisingly little blood was shed. However, Abby "cramped Cricket's style," so Abby had to go home so Cricket could get a little quality time. Poor Cricket - I've been doggy-sitting and doing homework like mad, so snuggle time has been a bit scarce lately.

In the 12 minutes (hee hee) that I haven't been working or abby-sitting, I managed to finish the Ambles socks - I still need to weave in the ends, but close enough, you know? I LOVED working on these. The pattern was challenging enough so that I didn't get bored, but easy enough to memorize. Plus, the yarn was 40% off at KH - so what a great deal! I'm seriously considering making another pair for myself, as these are a gift.

I was also supposed to finish the 12 minute sweater - and I got close! I seamed the shoulders, blocked the sleeves, and got ready to "pick up and knit" for the front button bands, and then the collar. And promptly hit a snag. You see, it's very difficult to pick up stitches evenly when the thick/thin yarn goes from REALLY thick to REALLY thin. I managed to pick up about 1/2 of the stitches on the left band, and then I decided we both needed a little break, to "see other projects" and "work things out." But since this is destined to be a shop sample, and I'm not about to let 2 button-bands and a collar defeat me, I'm planning on dragging her out later this week when I my lap is dog-free for more than 10 minutes at a time.

Plus, I have to finish some of these projects so I can play with my new yarn - I finally joined the Debbie Bliss club, and got my welcome package about 10 minutes later! (OK, it was about a week, but still - talk about fast service!)

I'm not sure what I'm going to make with the alpaca silk - I love the color, but I'm allergic to alpaca, so I think I'll make something for my roommate for Christmas/Birthday. But since I can't see her in the scarf/hat combo that came with the yarn, I'll have to give it a good think and see what I can come up with.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005  

The Twelve Minute Sweater

First, before I forget, here's a photo of a happy doggie with her new felted doggie toy, courtesy of my amazing secret pal! Abby hasn't quite figured out how to get at the extra-fun stuffing on the inside, but once she does, based on past behavior, she will spend hours ripping the stuffing out and leaving it in piles all over the floor. She will even break up large stuffing pieces into smaller strips. I swear, she'd be a great help if I was a spinner!

In other news, I spent most of the weekend relaxing and having fun, even though I should have been doing a lot of work. But, seeing as it was the only weekend for a long time past and future when I didn't have any interviews to worry about, it was really amazing to take a deep breath and enjoy myself.

Step one of any relaxing weekend? Ride my bike to the Happy Place, and spend the day with Holly, Phyl-Phyl, and Kristine, with a lunchtime visit from Cindy. I was trying to be a good girl, so I brought Mariah along to finally finish seaming her up. However, just as I was about to break out the needle and thread, Kristine rescued me asked me if I would mind knitting a shop sample out of the new Ella Rae book. Did I ever! I chose the "Chunky Little Jacket", which calls for Magallenes yarn DOUBLED. On size 15 needles. Consequently, I finished the fronts on Friday, the back on Saturday, and one sleeve yesterday. I'll probably finish the second sleeve tonight or tomorrow, depending on how late I get home.

But poor, poor Kristine - every time she looked away on Friday at the shop, I had finished miles of the front. The entire front only takes 74 rows - and she was on row 80-something of her sleeve, and was less than 1/2 done! So if you were in the shop on Friday and kept hearing Kristine say things like "I've only been gone 12 minutes! How have you finished the front?", now you know. Apparently, 12 minutes was the time-period of choice, though - so this sweater will now be known as the "12 minute sweater." (Hey, I figure that's at LEAST as creative as the real title!)

Overall, I have really enjoyed knitting this. The chunky HUGE yarn project was just what I needed to feel accomplished. The only changes I've made in the pattern thus far are the sleeves - I don't do 3/4 sleeve sweaters, so I lengthened them. Otherwise, it has been well-written and easy to follow (as long as you remember that all the measurements are in cm!) Plus, because it's going to be a shop sample until after Christmas or thereabouts, I didn't have to buy the yarn!

But even better than almost finishing an entire sweater in one weekend was what I got to do on Sunday - I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival with my girls (we've been best friends since kindergarden), and had a great time drinking beer enjoying the weather, the performers, and seeing all the booths. But the best part? I GOT TO RIDE AN ELEPHANT!!! (I have no idea what elephant rides have to do with the Renaissance. But DAH-YAM, it was so cool!)

After all of the beer excitement of the festival, my friend Jen and I had to go to an all-you-can-eat crab feast hosted by S's undergrad alumni association. Seriously, watching a bunch of Minnesotans trying to eat Maryland blue crabs is some serious entertainment. But Jen and I did Maryland proud, and ate so many crabs that we had to leave some on the table because we were full. It was beautiful.

After all that excitement this weekend, we were all pretty worn out!


Friday, September 16, 2005  

Best Secret Pal!!

Wow! When I got the slip notifying me that I had a package to pick up, I had NO IDEA that my package would be from my amazing secret pal, with a huge box full of amazing goodies!!!

First thing I noticed? My secret pal had decorated the box with an adorable kitty. Cricket approved of the decorating scheme.

And the inside was even cuter than the outside.

And check out the loot! :)

That's two skeins of Lorna's Laces in Icehouse (I love this color!!), a bag of REALLY neat rubber-band things (so not sure how to describe them. But trust me, they're really neat.), a custom cd mix with some great jacket art, a card with the reveal information, one of those "takeout for two" kits that I always think about buying, but never do... and the coolest notions box ever. How cool?

And every single one of those little boxes on the right has its own little lid. It's SO COOL.

But the best gifts weren't for me. See, my secret pal, Samantha, included some great gifts for the animal contingent!

Abby got a felted chew toy (and, according to S, she LOVES it!!!)

But Cricket scored the ultimate - kitty-crack. Cricket, a.k.a. "psycho-kitty," has never had catnip. Perhaps I took good-old Nancy's "say no to drugs" too seriously (HAH!), but for whatever reason, I've kept Cricket well away from the "catnip crowd." You've seen them - hanging around, trying to score hits out of the herb garden, passing off dried oregano to the more gullible kittens... well, now Cricket can be seen, eyes wild and felted kitty-toy in her mouth, assuring me that she "can stop any time she wants to."

But Stephanie, perhaps knowing that Cricket's catnip-fueled mania couldn't last, planned ahead -

What a lovely kitty-bed! And as she notes, it WOULD make a beautiful display basket for projects in progress, should Cricket get tired of it. I think I'll have to introduce Cricket to her bed when she's "come down" from the catnip - right now, she seems to think she needs to attack it!

Thanks so much, Secret Pal! Oh, and you may notice that there aren't any pictures of the super-yummy treats. Ummm, maybe you forgot to pack them? Especially the walnut biscotti? Speaking of, if you wanted to send me the recipe for the 3 types of biscotti you've sent me (sour cherry pecan, oatmeal cherry, and walnut) I would be eternally grateful. Like "Cricket when she gets her catnip fix" grateful.

I'm really looking forward to today - I'm heading to spend the day at the Happy Place, and I'm currently loading up the new HP audiobook onto my ipod. I finally got it from the library - and thanks to the ipod, I don't have to rush to finish it before the due-date!

Today's knitting agenda - finish Mariah (we might not speak for a bit unless I can figure out how to bind-off the bottom so that it matches the cast-on edge better), finish my Ambles sock, and figure out what I want to knit next!!!


Wednesday, September 14, 2005  

Finally Fixing Mariah

Some of you may remember Mariah... the sweater that was totally finished - except for the tiny problem with one front being about an inch longer than the other.

Well, for the longest time, I haven't been speaking with Mariah. First, I tried to cut back, unravel the entire front, and reknit. Except I forgot to do the waist shaping. So I cut AGAIN, unravelled AGAIN, and reknit. And still screwed up the shaping. So I unravelled again. Then I seemed to actually be doing it right, but when I got to the bottom cable/rib section, I was so not in the mood to make sure I did all the cabling correctly knitting from the top-down instead of the bottom-up, so Mariah spent a good solid couple of months enjoying the hospitality of the "knitting projects" drawer on my nightstand.

Well, since I now have 2 other sweaters waiting for her to be finished so they can all go get zippers, I decided it was time to knit those last 52 rows, sew a seam, graft some underarm stitches, and call it a day. And what better day than FOOTBALL DAY?

I was all prepared -

TV with Redskins game on? CHECK.

All of my notes on the pattern, row counter, various notions, needles, and Mariah herself? CHECK.

Fuzzy kitty-butt completely covering the instructions? CHECK.

D'oh! So I didn't finish fixing Mariah on Sunday - I still have about 12 rows to go before she's done. We have a date for tomorrow. Oh, and if you were feeling sorry for her that she spent so much time stuffed unceremoniously in a drawer? Don't. That little hussy decided that the needles I had knit the entire rest of the sweater with were now too big, and she made me rip back and restart the cable section with smaller needles.

My other current project, the Amble socks, are MUCH better behaved. I've finished the first sock, and am at the heel of the second. The pattern came from the Six Socks Knitalong - although truthfully, all I'm using from the pattern is the pattern chart - I'm doing my standard short-row toe-up socks. I really love these, and am pretty sad that they're going to my friend - but that just makes me think I may need to buy more yarn and make a pair for myself!

I would probably have already finished these, but my knitting time is a little curtailed lately - last week, when I went to Late Night, I found that someone had other ideas about what I should be doing with my hands -

Cricket, on the other hand, wishes that I would keep knitting - she's running out of projects to sleep on!


Thursday, September 08, 2005  

Taking (Re-Stock)

So here's the list from about a month ago:

Projects Nearing the Finish Line:
  • Trinity: collar; ends + seaming; blocking
  • Dad's Vest: neckband + armbands; ends; blocking
  • Mariah: finish re-knit of front; ends; blocking; zipper
  • Pines II: zipper
  • Brownie: seaming; blocking; zipper
    • update: ready for the zipper!
  • rippling waters: ends, blocking
Current Knitting:
  • Daf's Socks
  • jen's socks
On the Horizon:
  • Socks: Amy, Kati, Jen, Karen, etc...
  • Grandma's Fingerless Mitts
  • Tess' Silk/Merino Aran
  • Cormo Aran
  • Jaeger Lace Cardi
  • Brook's Farm Sweater
  • Knitty's Messenger Bag
  • rippling waters 2 for R
  • lily of the valley for Mom
  • ......
So overall, not too bad... I've managed to finish a few things! This weekend I'll tackle one more project from the "please finish me before the end of time" list. Maybe Mariah, if I start speaking with her again. We'll see. :)


Monday, September 05, 2005  

Ignore the Washing Instructions

Since the combined hectic stress of 16 interviews in 2 weeks and a full week of classes gave me a sore throat and that "something's not quite right" feeling by Friday, I spent the entire day lounging around, watching movies, knitting, and drinking what I conservatively estimate was 643 gallons of tea. I finally got my act together and finished the last 2 seams on Brownie - the drop stitch cardigan from Interweave. It took EXACTLY 10 balls of the Margrite Bulky - how exact? Here's what I had left from ball #10 after all the seams were completed -

I was on a roll. I'd finally finished the sweater, and I loved the way it fit. The amazing softness of the yarn led S to dub it "the teddy bear sweater." Dreaming of the crisp fall days where I'd throw this on with a pair of jeans and walk through the falling leaves, I filled up a big bowl with cool water, carefully submerged the newly-completed sweater, and, without agitating, let her get fully saturated. I then VERY carefully squeezed out the water and even more carefully lifted the sweater out of the bowl without letting any part of it hang down and stretch out. I wrapped it in a towel and carefully squeezed out the excess water. The blocking board came out, and I very carefully, again without stretching, laid Brownie out to block.

"Hmmm....." I thought - "this seems like an awfully big sweater. Haven't most of my sweaters FIT ON THE BLOCKING BOARD?????"

So with that horrible feeling you get in the pit of your stomach, I tried Brownie on. And discovered that the cute, fitted sweater I had so recently sewed up had transformed into what can only be described as a bathrobe. With sleeves that were easily 6-8" too long.

Panicking, I checked the care instructions for the yarn, which is 80% merino wool and 20% cashmere. According to the instructions, I'm supposed to hand wash cool, dry flat away from direct sunlight, and stay far, far away from the dryer.

Apparently, those instructions roughly translate to:

"If you want your garment to look ANYTHING like it did when you finished knitting it, as opposed to some stretched out bathrobe-esque disaster, please wet the garment slightly (should be damp throughout), and throw into the dryer, on high, with the sheets, for approximately an hour. You can, if you like hanging out in the laundry room, keep checking the sweater for fit every 5-10 minutes, but don't worry - it'll just barely shrink back to its normal size, and the sleeves will be a touch too long."

So, after about an hour in the hot dryer, the sweater is back to normal, fits great (except for the slightly too long sleeves), and is ready for a zipper. I, meanwhile, was ready for a really stiff drink.

In much less traumatic knitting news, I finished the Red Sox Socks - I gave them to my friend yesterday, and I'm hoping they'll both fit, and also bring her boys luck as they head into the playoffs!

There was also quite a lot of excitement on the animal front chez-Maeve this weekend - we decided it was time to take the introductions to the next level. Prior to this weekend, Abby and Cricket had met several times through the gate at the front door, and all went very well - no hissing, or puffing up, or aggression of any kind. There were even occassional nose-kissing sniffs through the gate!

So next step - let Abby inside, and let Cricket approach her.

AWWWWW!!!! We're not to the point where we'll let Abby wander around freely, and we've started putting the baby gate up in the hallway so that Cricket can get under it, but Abby can't. Hopefully, after a few more supervised weekends, they can be trusted to hang out a bit together...

And finally, I hope that everyone had a good holiday - I spent mine with family and friends, on my parents' porch, eating Maryland blue crabs, steak, and homemade ice cream. Really, I couldn't have asked for a better end to the summer!


Thursday, September 01, 2005  

Lovely Assistant

I haven't posted in ages. Why? Because I've been interviewing with way too many firms (16 down, 5 to go. And 3 callbacks so far.) I'm really hoping I get a couple of offers that I actually want, or else all of this frenetic running around in a suit and heels will be for nothing. {sigh}.

But somehow, I have managed to do the occasional bit of knitting. Mostly waiting for it to be time for my interview. I've finished 1 Red Sox sock ...

However, since my friend has 2 feet (last time I checked), I have to finish a second sock. I've cast on, and am making progress. For the first sock, I didn't plan ahead and didn't pack the white yarn necessary for the heel. So I improvised and did the afterthought heel - I definitely like short-row heels better, but in a pinch, the afterthought heel works.

But much more exciting - I finished Rippling Waters! (Well, technically I need to weave in two ends, but I'm ignoring that.) I desperately need to block it, but I don't have blocking wires. I've ordered some, but "instant gratification" is apparently not possible when mail-ordering blocking wires, so I'll just have to wait.

But isn't she pretty?

I LOVED this pattern - from Fiddlesticks, purchased (of course) at Knit Happens. It was excellently written, totally clear, and just challenging enough to make me excited to keep knitting on it, but not so hard that I screwed up too badly. I used a lifeline at the end of each 16 row repeat, and had to rip back to it several times, but survived the experience with minimal angst. :) I'm already planning on knitting at least one more of these... if I ever have time to knit again!

You might have noticed that all of the photos in this entry include the ever-lovely and talented Cricket. She was SO helpful during the photo session - she was especially helpful when I was figuring out how to use my new tripod. See?

I obviously couldn't have figured it out without her help. What a good kitty!


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