Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Christmas Meme (because all the cool kids are doing it)

(Or at least one cool kid--Maryann--is doing it.)

NAME: Valerie

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate, as long as it's the good stuff. But I do like both.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? We've done both, at various times. Usually wrapped, unless it's especially difficult or awkward to wrap.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White. I have a strong preference for white or single-color bulbs. But the Rockefeller Center tree has multicolored bulbs and is all right.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Usually the week or next weekend after Thanksgiving (usually the first weekend in December). We don't take the tree down until Epiphany Sunday.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Hmm...dessert has always been my favorite. I'll have to say my grandmother's chicken and noodles, though. They're amazing, and I don't get them any other time of year anymore. One consequence of not living near my family.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Probably the Christmas Eve program at church. It's a kids program, which is always interesting. When I was 5, I beat out all the older girls to play Mary. I was very proud of myself. Of course, we didn't do the live nativity scene after that year, so I wonder what I did.... (I was also a sheep when I was a toddler, for what it's worth.)

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I really don't remember.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We go to my grandparents' after the program on Christmas Eve and open gifts from them and from my aunt and uncle. Other than that, nada.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? I have a hodgepodge of ornaments that both Dustin and I stole from our respective families. My mom is a little Christmas nuts (she decorates about 10 trees of varying sizes), so there are plenty of ornaments around. Plus, we always shop on 12/26 and buy decorations. There's a photo in my last entry.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I still have a soft spot in my heart for it, because I grew up basically without it. But 3 years in Vermont did start curing me of it. I guess the best answer is that I like it until March.

12. Can you ice skate? No. Anything that requires balance and coordination seems to be beyond my capabilities.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? As a kid? I don't think so. But I was insanely excited about getting my Schacht last year.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Going home to see our families and friends. And all the tradition involved.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? I have a hard time with this one, but probably my grandmother's Japanese Fruitcake, which is totally not fruitcake. (The link is close to what she makes, I think.) I'm pretty sure Dustin decided to marry me after eating this cake.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? It's still the Christmas Eve program at church, I think, plus going to my grandparents'.

17. What tops your tree? An angel crocheted by Dustin's great-grandmother that needs to be re-starched.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Both. I like shopping for great gifts as much as getting them.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? I'm going to be lame and say "O Holy Night," but I really love the entire Boston Camerata Renaissance Christmas cantata. It's wonderful.

20. Candy Canes… Yuck or Yum? I don't really eat them, but I don't hate them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Question of the week--Will I make it?

I don't know. I really don't know at this point. There has been progress, but here's what's left:
- About 1/3 of a sweater sleeve, seaming, and finishing
- Pirate hat
- 1 pair of socks
- 1 1/2 pairs of Fuzzyfeet
(Oh, and finish the Pirate Socks for my husband, but that should be quick.)

The deadline is ostensibly 12/19, when we leave for home. I have a plan, but I'm not terribly optimistic given all the other things I have to do between now and then. It's looming. I think it's the second sleeve that put me behind.

But, since I've been busy with non-blogging things, here are some photos to entertain you.

First, a swap package from the lovely Susann, including Rot-Weiss (aka ketchup & mayo in a tube--excellent on fries). I also received two gorgeous bumps of alpaca-silk from Sarah, but they went straight in the "to-be-spun" pile and didn't make an appearance for the camera.

Next, Thanksgiving! Think this is too much food for 2 people?

The Christmas tree, nativity, and Playmobil Advent calendar, all put up last night.

And, finally, the reason I avoid leaving my office in December.

Complete with pine cones!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What happens when you get brainwashed by the Christmas music in October

Let's get this out of the way first. I like deadlines; I work well with them. In fact, I'm much more likely to finish something when I have a deadline. And my family is really appreciative of knitted gifts, to the point that my Mom has dropped subtle hints about a sweater for a year and has asked for another pair of socks since I gave her her first pair in August. (It's a good thing she wears a size 6 shoe.) So I like to knit Christmas gifts.

The list this year, though, is a little nuts. And I keep adding to it.
- Bristow
- 4 pairs of socks (plus a pair for my husband that needs to be finished)
- French Market Bag
- We Call Them Pirates hat
- 2 pairs of Fuzzy Feet
- Ballband dishclots, as I have time (yeah, right)

Okay, that actually doesn't seem so bad when I write it down. It sounds doable, even. (See how brainwashed I am?) I mean, I have 1 1/2 pairs of socks, the French Market Bag, and the back of Bristow finished. I can do it, right? Right? Or are the evergreen fumes emanating from the enormous tree outside my office getting to me?

Oh, I have the contents of two lovely packages, from Susann and Sarah, to show you! But my photos aren't uploaded, so they will have to wait.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Week in the City

I spent last week hosting my parents on their second trip to New York City. I think they enjoyed it, even though my dad is a pretty bad traveller--he thinks there's no place like home and has a hard time appreciating NYC. I took the week off from work, since I have plenty of unused vacation time, and we did some touristy things.

Here they are at Top of the Rock (which, by the way, is a great improvement over the insanely crowded and overrated Empire State Building).

On the knitting and spinning front, there has been some progress. I finished my first pair of Christmas socks and, after much swatching and deliberation, decided to knit Bristow for my mom out of some Cotton Fleece in the stash. The French Market Bag for my mother-in-law is also nearly finished; I ran short of the handspun I was using, so I will use a handdyed mohair-wool handspun as contrast on the handles. Luckily, it matches the burgundy and green perfectly.

I did find the time to spin up 4 oz. of superwash merino that I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool. It's from Bonkers, and should be enough for a pair of socks. I Navajo-plied it, which is quickly becoming my favorite technique for handpainted roving. I really love this yarn, and I'm itching to use it!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rhinebeck (or, what else could this post be about?)

First, thank you all for your moral support about the Ram's Horn Jacket. I took Elizabeth's advice and steamed the front bands, wore it to Rhinebeck, and felt infintely better about it. It helped that I had probably a dozen or so people compliment me on it, and I had a five-minute conversation with one woman about the pattern.

One thing I did not mention about the pattern is that I lengthened it by about 3 inches. This began as an error on the back, due to the fact that I knit the hem together with live stitches instead of seaming it and counted the row where I seamed it as the "turning row," for some unknown reason. At any rate, I prefer the longer length and would recommend it if you want a hip-length cardigan.

Now, on to the fiber orgy, er, Rhinebeck summary.

First, it was crowded--almost as crowded as Maryland. I think the upswing in spinning has made the fiber festivals extremely popular. There were no Koigu millends, but the fight was on for Socks That Rock.

The Fold's booth about half an hour after opening. Note the massive amounts of STR yarn on the back wall. (By the way, we opened up The Fold's booth. In fact, we were there before they were open. I bought 2 skeins and one of the adorable yet overpriced Tube Sock kits. Yes, it's overhyped, but I like the colors. What can I say?)

And, The Fold's booth sometime in the early afternoon. Note the extreme lack of yarn.

Also, I enabled Karen into a wheel, a Lendrum DT. What can I say? At least it was a bargain. (I also sold Tamara on a Fricke DT, but she's saving up for it.)

We met up with Ariel and Cathy, as well. Here they are scoping out the fibers at the Little Barn booth. Ariel also has a good photo of me in the Ram's Horn Jacket on her blog.

Amy also rode up with Karen, Tamara, and me, and I enabled her into some Brooks Farm. Of course, no one can resist the Brooks Farm! Look, Amy, it's a good photo of you!

Finally, Tania and I visited the fleece show and became crazed by the aroma of lanolin. We walked away with 2 fleeces--a 5 lb. CVM/Rambouillet cross, and a nearly 10 lb. Cormo cross. They are really beautiful fleeces, and I was a little sad to part with them at the Zeilinger's booth. We should end up with beautiful roving in a month or two, though!

The CVM/Rambo cross (a blurry photo):

The Cormo cross:

I had some other purchases, but I'll show them off as I knit or spin them. The big purchases were weaving implements--a warping board, a beautiful boat shuttle, bobbins, and a sleying hook.

Now, how many months is it until Maryland?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ram's Horn Jacket

Ram's Horn Jacket
Originally uploaded by alerievay.
Well, it's finished. And I'm somewhat underwhelmed. We'll see if it grows on me. (Ignore the awful photo; my husband doesn't use the camera well and I just got home from work.)

Anyway, the stats:
Pattern: Ram's Horn Jacket, in Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan
Size: Approx. 44", but I knit the smallest size because my gauge was off
11 skeins of Pingouin Fleur de Laine (discontinued yarn I picked up at the giant stash sale)
U.S. 5, 6, and 7 needles

I'm really just meh about the sweater right now. The pattern was fairly clear, although I thought some directions could have been clearer, especially those for the collar.

I still plan to wear this to Rhinebeck, provided the weather is cool enough, but I'm just notn sure about it. And I'm not sure why.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Navajo Plying

I received a really beautiful Spunky Eclectic roving from Lauren a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn't wait to spin it. I forced myself to finish up the last of the two pounds of BFL on Saturday, then I started spinning. It always amazes me how different the colors on a roving can look once they are on the bobbin. Because I loved the way the colors looked, I decided to try Navajo plying, something I had never done before. (For those of you who don't spin, Navajo plying allows the spinner to create a 3-ply yarn from a single bobbin using a chaining motion similar to crochet.) I'm really pleased with the results, even though there was a fair amount of overtwist on the plying.

The 4 oz. roving yielded a bit more than 200 yards of a worsted/heavy worsted yarn. I haven't decided what to do with it yet, and will swatch a few stitch patterns at some point. I'm leaning toward a narrow mistake rib scarf, but I need to verify the yardage and gauge first. This is the first yarn I've spun that I'm very excited to knit. The striping should be interesting.

The Ram's Horn Jacket from Knitting Nature is in the process of being seamed and will be worn at Rhinebeck this weekend, weather permitting. Let's just hope it's not as hot as last year!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Loom Photos

For those of you who are curious, here is the new loom! It's a Schacht 8-harness table loom, with a 20" weaving width. (Yes, I apparently have a thing for Schacht equipment.)

It's currently sitting in my dining room, attached to its legs. I did a bit of weaving over the weekend, but I'm waiting on some yarn and warping tools (to be purchased at Rhinebeck) before I do much more. The edges are pulling in quite a bit, but I know that this will get better with practice.

Don't worry; I'm not going to start pushing looms at everyone (well, not all the time, anyway).

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Secret Pal Package, Lady Eleanor, and a New Hobby?

So, I participated in the Knitty Coffeshop's first ever spinning secret pal exchange and had a great time! I received this wonderful package from my secret pal (whose identity I'm still not certain about) on Saturday.

From the top left corner: 8 oz. Finn top (so soft), 4 oz. Shetland/Mohair Cloud (still has some lanolin in it and is so beuatiful), a Spunky Eclectic roving (gorgeous!!), really delicious vanilla black tea, an adorable card, a 100g skein of Opal self-striping sock yarn, and Spinning Designer Yarns by Diane Varney (an excellent alternative to the Pluckyfluff book).

All of these are things I would have bought for myself, and it was all I could do not to spin up the fibers right away! I'm trying to be patient and spin up the BFL first, but it's so difficult when I have other beautiful fibers in the stash! Thank you so much, secret pal! It was such a thoughtful package, and I lucked out getting you as my match!

I promised a photo of the Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole, and here it is!

I used 10 skeins of Southwest Trading Company Karaoke, a soy/wool blend, in the colorway Copper. I have enough left over to do fringe, if I decide I want it. It really is enormous, though, and fringe would be too much, I think. I have had thoughts of reknitting this at some point into a more manageable shawl at a tighter gauge, but I won't be doing that in the near future. The entrelac drove me nuts by the end; I was very ready for it to be over. This will make a cozy wrap for those weeks before our landlords decide to turn on the heat.

Finally, with Karen's aiding and abetting, I bought a used loom on Sunday. Blogger has, unfortunately, decided that I should not add more photos to this post, but I'll post photos and details later! You may feel free to question my sanity at taking up yet another hobby in the comments.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New Recipes Tried (sans knitting photos)

I did knit and spin this weekend. Lady Eleanor Entrelac was finished and blocked (minus fringe, which I'm probably leaving off), and I started the Ram's Horn Jacket. In fact, I liked the Ram's Horn Jacket so much, I started it twice. Well, in reality, I found I was in total denial about the gauge my swatch told me and realized I needed to either (a) knit the (slightly heavier than worsted) yarn at a gauge that made it feel like iron or (b) knit a different size to get the right measurements. I chose (b), because I liked the fabric I had at 4.5 sts/in. and would not like the fabric at 5.5 sts/in. As it is, this will be a fairly heavy sweater. It is quite a change to be knitting on size 7 needles again; most things I've been knitting lately seem to be on size 4 or smaller.

Lady Eleanor Entrelac is lovely, and I will have photos soon. I do wish I'd knit it at a tighter gauge, as the Karaoke grew a lot in the blocking process. However, it's perfect for a heavier wrap, and it's light enough that I could potentially use it as a scarf on the coldest winter days. Enough for the teasing, though--more to ocme when I have photos.

In food news, we really enjoyed the Pork and Pineapple Tacos from Cooking Light. It's a great blend of smoky and spicy with sweet, especially if you find a good salsa verde for it. We had Goya Black Beans and Rice with the tacos. Both were also good as leftovers. I ended up subbing a Mrs. Dash blend with chipotle for the ground chipotle, since neither of my local stores carry it. Penzey's does, if you have time to plan. Overall, a quick, easy, and tasty change from normal tacos.

We also enjoyed the Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta, to a lesser extent. There are too many shallots in the recipe, I think, though it does taste better on the second day. I would recommend a good, sharp provolone and thick-sliced bacon for this. The sweetness of the squash and the smokiness of the bacon are quite good together, and I could imagine using them in something else--maybe mashed butternut squash? In some ways, though, this dish had too much going on, from the squash to the bacon and shallots to the pasta. I will probably make this again, even though it was somewhat time consuming and messy. It makes a good work lunch.

Next post: Lady Eleanor photos, progress on the Ram's Horn Jacket, and (perhaps) discussion of my desire to take up weaving.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ahoy! Handspun Socks and a Pirate Sock, Mateys!

...and with that I've fulfilled my Talk Like a Pirate Day obligations.

With all that knitting this weekend, I did manage to finish the handspun socks I started in April, I think.

They are made from 4 oz. of Corriedale, dyed with Wilton's dyes, and spun into a 2-ply yarn. I probably have 1/2 to 1 ounce of spun yarn left over. They are generic toe-up socks, nothing terribly special.

I think these socks are a great example of how even beginner handspun can knit up nicely and make a good fabric. I don't have any great close-ups of the socks, due to the short days and horrible lighting, but the fabric looks fairly even. The yarn is most assuredly not even. My spinning has improved from this effort, even with the somewhat haphazard spinning schedule I maintain, but there are good uses for even "bad" yarns.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Busy Weekend

This was a busy weekend for knitters in NYC, with appearances from Amy Singer and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and culminating in the Knit Out. Naturally, I was at pretty much all of them.

Friday night, I headed to The Point for a wine and cheese event with Amy. Great fun was had by all, and I saw several people I hadn't seen in quite some time. I also met some other Knittyboard members, which is always a treat! Unfortunately, I can't get the photo from that night to load, but it is on Tania's Flickr account, here.

On Saturday evening, the Yarn Harlot (aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) was at my local Barnes and Noble for a talk and signing. She was as funny in person as in her books and genuinely delightful. I managed to arrive early enough to snag front row seats. The event was definitely standing room only. Karen and I, channeling junior high, had dressed alike in our Go With the Flow tanks. And, yes, hers is gorgeous!

Sunday was the NYC Knit Out, which is an enormous event. It feels like knitters and crocheters come out of the woodwork for this one, even though it's mainly full of giveaways of dubious value (free patterns from Red Heart, for example). I came home with a bag full of patterns that I probably won't use. People get pushy about the free needles (size 17 straights, of course) and yarn (some Bernat yarn similar to Fun Fur). It's very odd. I decided to avoid a lot of that and ended up walking around and meeting more Knitty people.

You can also see a bit of the "Fashion" Show, featuring creations from Red Heart, Caron, and other purveyors of fine petro-yarn. There were a couple of decent items, but, for the most part, the fug was flying so fast I couldn't get good photos.

But, on to the Knittyboard meet-up!

From left to right: Jas (Artsygal, who will be opening an online store for her lovely handpainted yarns soon), Tania (mikomiao), Amy (weaselrina), Valerie (costumechick), and Karen (cooknknit). You can almost see Tamara (labean) at the far right, but here's a better photo of her spinning.

In short, there was a lot of knitting and talking about knitting this weekend. A great time was had by all!

Friday, September 08, 2006


Strangely enough, this is pretty accurate, although I think I'm slightly more adventurous than that.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Print o' the Wave

Pattern: Eunny Jang, available here.
Yarn: Jaggerspun Zephyr, Indigo, less than 2 skeins (I estimate less than 1000 yds)
Needles: US 4 Inox

Even with all the problems I had with this pattern, I am very pleased with the final results. The Zephyr is really a special yarn, too. I wore it to a wedding this weekend and hope to have some action shots eventually. (My mother doesn't have a good digital camera yet and relies on her nearly 30-year-old SLR.)

After spending the long weekend in Tennessee, I'm off for the rest of this week. I'm trying to do some cleaning and organizing, while working on spinning and knitting projects that have been abandoned. I also started the Swallowtail Shawl in KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud (after a failed start in Seasilk) and swatched for the Ram's Horn Jacket from Knitting Nature. I have a bit of a plan for the Seasilk, but I'm going to finish the Swallowtail Shawl first.

I'll blog more about the short trip and more happenings later! A weekend of socializing makes me less talkative.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A New Feature at Chez Val

As some of you may know, I'm currently on a quest to eat better and be healthier overall. I joined a gym in February (and currently exercise with Karen pretty often), and I've started doing things like bringing breakfast and lunch to work in order to eat better and more cheaply. (The $7 sandwiches were starting to get to me, too.)

So, I've decided to add a post or two a week to talk about the getting healthy process. Most of the content will be recipe reviews and interesting ideas I read about, rather than complaints about how I didn't lose any weight this week or fell off the wagon by eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's. Well, that's the plan anyway.

Today's entry is a review of Cooking Light's Herbed Cheese Pizza. I love the Cooking Light recipes I've tried. They strike the right balance between good food and healthy food. They know which ingredients are crucial to a recipe and which can be reduced or eliminated (and which can use reduced-fat or reduced-calorie versions of the same item). Plus, the website contains user reviews of most recipes.

Preparation: The pizza dough is a relatively easy one. It starts with a bread flour/sugar/water/yeast sponge, which makes rising time short at 45 minutes (plus 20 minutes resting). I ended up adding more all purpose flour than called for during kneading, because the dough was very tacky. I also parbaked the crusts for around 8 minutes, since I froze all but two pizzas. The sauce was also very simple, using canned tomatoes. I added the oregano spice mixture to the sauce, as it seemed a bit odd to me to add it as a topping. I used a kitchen scale to measure the amount of cheese for each pizza. It's a fairly generous serving of cheese--more than I'd thought.

I baked the two pizzas for Monday and Tuesday lunches last night, then bagged them up with foil to be reheated in the toaster oven at work. I ran into some problems with the toaster oven in the pantry near my office (it's apparently very prone to smoke and fire), so I'm going to bake these the night before and heat them in the toaster oven or microwave. I just can't risk catching the office on fire!

Taste: Really good. Like a more Greek/Middle Eastern version of a basic cheese pizza. The sauce is chunky, and I might go with finely diced tomatoes next time, rather than the chunky ones I used this time. With a piece of fruit, it seems pretty filling. I might change the dough next time; because of the quick-rising nature of this dough, it didn't develop a lot of flavor. I like the dough recipe in A New Way To Cook, which gives a variety of great instructions for fitting the rising schedule into your schedule.

Bottom Line: Good lunch option that can be made in advance (recipe makes 8 6" pizzas). Different than standard pizza fare. Would try a more flavorful crust recipe.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Progress! (But no photos yet)

Thank you for all the kind Blogiversary comments!

About a month ago, I posted a list of items to finish before Labor Day, and I'm nearly there! Just a few more 12-row repeats on the second linen handtowel, and I'm finished! Print o' the Wave is blocking--finally. With that and the rain that's been around all weekend, there aren't any photos yet. (Wendy yells when I post really bad photos.)

As always, I have about a million things I want to knit, but here are four upcoming projects:

1. Jack Sparrow's Favorite Socks for the husband
2. Swallowtail Shawl, by Evelyn Clark (in the current Interweave Knits)
3. Lady Eleanor (dangerously close to an unfinished object)
4. Ram's Horn Jacket from Knitting Nature--hopefully finished by Rhinebeck (and hopefully cool enough to wear a sweater this year!)

I'll have a post with photos later this week, provided the weather cooperates!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Today Is My Blogiversary?

Well, time certainly flies when you're having fun. It's been a full year since I started this blog, and I hope that my blogging and photography skills have evolved a bit. Both have a long way to go, as ever.

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog--all 10 of you! I've enjoyed sharing my knitting with you, and I hope there are bigger and better things to come! I always appreciate your advice and feedback.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Go with the Flow Tank--Finished!

I'm really pleased with this. It needs a final washing and blocking to take care of the scallops that want to flip out, but I really like it. (And now I can stop stressing that Karen will finish before me--even though Laura finished hers many moons ago.)

Pattern: Go with the Flow Tank, from Inspired Cable Knits by Fiona Ellis. The pattern was well-written, and the charts worked well. The additional lengths in the larger sizes are made by adding lace repeats to the bottom. If I was making this again, I would consider doing fewer lace repeats and adding a cable repeat. It's also interesting that the cable insert goes up the back as well as the front. It makes for less mind-numbing knitting, but I think it would look fine without it.

Size: XL, 42"

Yarn: Rowan 4-ply Cotton, shade 132, 6 balls. I enjoyed working with this yarn more than I expected, as it is 100% cotton. I encountered very little splitting as I knit it, and it looks great at this gauge. The suggested yarn in the pattern was Dale Stork, and I believe this makes a great substitute in more adult colors.

Needles: Addi Turbo 2.5mm (US 1), 40" circular

I don't have any comments on the pattern, really, other than the lace issue. I followed the pattern fairly religiously, except for the number of stitches picked up around the neck and armholes, where I winged it. This was an interesting yet fairly easy knit. My seaming has greatly improved, as reflected in the shoulder and side seams, which look really good, if I do say so myself.

Next up in the pre-Labor Day list is the Print O' The Wave Shawl. I'm somehow resisting the Handmaiden Seasilk for the moment, but I expect to begin on the Swallowtail Shawl from the latest IK over the holiday.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Let's Try This Again...

Since Blogger wasn't cooperating with the yarn photos in my previous post, here they are for your viewing pleasure!

I have had two wonderful mail days, too! On Wednesday, I received the most beautiful hank of Handmaiden Seasilk, in the color Renaissance, from Wendy--a prize for winning her Phart Yarn contest. I believe this is destined to be the Swallowtail Shawl from the latest Interweave. This yarn is just amazing and deserves a special project, so it may take some swatching and trial and error.

Yesterday, I received a surprise package from Sarah! Two ounces of Corriedale/Churro cross roving, which is softer than I would have thought, an adorable hamster card, and gorgeous handspun alpaca/silk! (You can see photos on her blog, here, since I won't be taking photos before the weekend.)

Thank you, Wendy and Sarah!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cable and Rib Socks with a Side of Stash Enhancement

In the flurry of trying to finish some works in progress (see my previous post), I did finish a pair of socks.

These are the Rib and Cable Socks, by Nancy Bush, from the Fall 2005 Interweave Knits. I used a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Potluck, with plenty left over. I love the Potluck colors (and they're about $3 cheaper where I buy them); they tend to be more subtle than the other hand-dyed colors. I used size 1 needles, but this yarn would be just as happy (if not happier) knit at a tighter gauge. I found the socks to be tighter-fitting than I had expected, but I suspect wearing them a few times will correct this, like the Jaywalker socks.

I also did a bit of yarn shopping over the last week. First, I went to Seaport Yarns to buy two skeins of Louet Euroflax for the Mason Dixon Knitting handtowels. I also left with two skeins of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock for Christmas gifts for my father and father-in-law. (Anyone else sensing an obsession with this yarn?) The blue is a potluck color, while the other is one of their actual colorways; the name currently escapes me.

I am currently having issues uploading photos to Blogger, so the photos of the Supersock described above and the Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb I bought at The Point's 40% off sale will have to wait.

There is progress being made on the Go With the Flow tank; I'm one cable repeat from the armhole shaping. I have to confess that I really want this to just be finished already, and it's become a little tedious. Finishing this and the other August projects will feel great, though! Then it's on to the Christmas knitting!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Nothing to See Here

With the insane temperatures in Brooklyn the last couple of days*, we've been keeping the blinds shut at all times, preventing good photo shoots. I do have a pair of socks and one in progress to photograph, but those will wait for the cooler weather that should be arriving soon. I also have a little yarn shopping to show off.

For now, I'll entertain myself (and maybe those of you who are reading this) with a couple of knitting to-do lists. I still have the same spinning projects on the wheels--Bluefaced Leicester on the Schacht (of which less than 1 pound of the 2 pounds I bought is spun) and the mohair/wool dyed blend on the Joy (spinning from the fold is extremely time-consuming). I'm still in knitting mode for the time being, perhaps because the wheels are too far from the air conditioner and my hands sweat.

Items to finish before Labor Day:

1. Socks for my mother's birthday. These are plain, cuff-down socks knit in Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, the Foxy Lady colorway. I've finished the gusset decreases on the first sock. Her birthday is technically August 16 or 17**, but I will be going home for Labor Day and will give them to her then.

2. Two linen hand towels, from Mason Dixon Knitting. I bought the yarn for these yesterday, and they will become my subway knitting as soon as the socks are finished. These are part of a wedding gift.

3. Go With the Flow tank. I'm on the front, finally finished with the lace border that seems to take ages. I plan to get a lot of knitting time on this this weekend. For now, go look at Laura's.

4. Print o' the Wave Stole. I'm on the border and can finish this before the end of the month. It's on hiatus until the tank and socks are completed.

Christmas Knitting List (so far):

I'm trying not to fall for the "every gift must be knitted" urge, but it's hard at Christmas. However, I'm trying to keep the list short and sweet with fairly simple gifts. If I don't get time for something, I have plenty of stash yarn for a last-minute hat.

1. Fair Isle Vest/Sweater for Mom. I bought the yarn for this in February--Jamieson's Shetland DK. This will be the most time-consuming project, as it may very well be self-designed.

2. and 3. Plain socks for Dad and my father-in-law. I bought two skeins of CTH Supersock last night for just this purpose.

4. French Market Bag for my mother-in-law. I made one of these for Mom, and she uses it every day.

5. Socks for my sister.

6. Pirate Socks for my husband (from Pam's wonderful pattern).

7. Something for my grandmother. Maybe Cozy, using some of the handspun merino from

There are some other potential recipients, but I'm going to start with this list and see where it takes me. Last year, I added things at the end as I had time.

* You know it's bad when entering the subway station feels like descending into the seventh level of Hell and you cease to care when sweat starts dripping down your legs.

** I don't know the exact date because my cousin was born on the other day, and my mother has spent the last 15 years telling me it's one day or the other, trying to confuse me. I now refuse to even try to find out the exact date, telling her I'll call her on one or both days.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No, Laura, I haven't finished

As you probably know, Laura and I are knitting the Go With the Flow Tank from Inspired Cable Knits at the same time. Of course, Laura is nearly finished and will be posting photos of her tank very soon. On the other hand, here is my progress.

Yes, that's just the back. I've cast on and knit the beginning of the edging for the front, but there's still a lot to go.

For those of you interested, here is a detail shot of the cable and lace sections. Keep in mind that it isn't blocked. The color is very off in this photo; the previous photo is very true to the real color.

Of course, I haven't succeeded in convincing Laura that she needs to learn to spin as well, thus slowing down her knitting progress (although it looks like Karen has seen the light). I was a little distracted by the gorgeous Bluefaced Leicester I bought at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, mentioned in my last post.

I also have a nearly full bobbin on the Schacht and plan to spin some more this weekend. The Schacht and I had some rocky times when I bought the Joy, but I've learned to love it again. The better I become, the more I love using the Schacht. I'm not sure it was the wisest choice as a beginner, and I had a lot of frustrations with it, but I am growing into it and learning how wonderful it can be.

Currently, my knitting list is as follows:
- Print O' The Wave (working on the border)
- Cable and Rib Socks from IK (nearly finished with the second sock)
- Go With the Flow Tank (beginning front)

All of these, and the Child's First Socks from Vintage Knitting, should be finished by Labor Day. It shouldn't be a problem, unless I get bored and start something new.

I've also been contemplating my holiday knitting list. There are a few pairs of socks on there, plus a fair isle vest or sweater (depending on how much yarn I have), and maybe a felted bag or two. Considering all the other things I want to knit this fall, it's time to start thinking about these projects.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Yes, Spinning Has Occurred

Originally uploaded by alerievay.
Lest you fear (or hope?!) that I had given up spinning entirely in favor of knitting, here is some photographic evidence. This is approximately 200 yards of a 2-ply wool/mohair mix. It was a combed preparation that I spun from the fold on my Joy. I'm really pleased with how this turned out.

I have also been spinning some really gorgeous Bluefaced Leicester I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool from Haltwhistle Fibers, but I think I will wait until it is all spun and dyed before I share it. I have two pounds, and I think it will become a sweater.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Scavenger Hunt at the Met and Other Weekend Adventures

A large part of the big law firm associate's summer is taken up by summer associate events and lunches. The good is that you have lots of fancy meals and drinks on the firm. The bad is that they take up a ton of time and are forced social interactions. Sometimes, though, they really are fun!

On Friday evening, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a scanvenger hunt. A few of you may know that I am a total nerd at heart. I watched Jeopardy! nearly every night growing up. I played Trivial Pursuit every time I could find someone to play with me. I'm also competitive; I almost broke up with a long-term boyfriend due to some really stupid plays in a Rook game. Needless to say, a scavenger hunt is my kind of thing.

The teams were picked by the organizers, and my team was great. My friend Javad was our navigator, always looking for the location of the next question. The rest of us puzzled out the clues and found the answers. We got first place, with a perfect score. I would highly recommend this company as a way to see familiar places in a different way (or even a way to explore new places). It was surreal rushing past Degas's The Little Fourteen Year-Old Dancer to find the painting in the next room or looking only at the painting on the back of Van Gogh's self-portrait, but it was really interesting and challenging.

There were also fiber-related activities this weekend. On Saturday, I worked a bit on the Print O' The Wave Stole and a sock. We also saw the new Pirates of the Caribbean, which is more likeable than the reviews indicate. On Sunday, I finished two pairs of One-Hour Baby Booties from Stitch n' Bitch Nation and the sock. I also started the Go With the Flow tank in Rowan 4-ply cotton. It's really lovely, but it is going to be a challenge--more in endurance than anything. There was also a bit of spinning on some really lovely Bluefaced Leicester from Maryland Sheep and Wool, but spinning is still on a bit of a hiatus right now. I'm a knitting fiend again.

Next time, I will have photos of the booties and some handspun I've been working on on the Joy.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Trip to Vermont and New Hampshire (and a serious lack of knitting)

As some of you know, I went to law school in Vermont, on this fine campus. (No, it's not affiliated with the University of Vermont; it's a private school.) I highly recommend the school and the state, even though winters can be brutal. Vermont in summer is heaven.

We headed up to the Northeast Kingdom this weekend for a classmate's wedding and promptly got lost on the dirt roads while trying to find our way back to the inn. In Vermont, there is very little difference between public dirt roads and private driveways--though the driveways are often in better shape. Thank goodness the car was a rental. I don't think we would have forded that giant puddle in our own car.

After a really lovely wedding and amazing party with some classmates, we spent another night at the Craftsbury Inn and took off to New Hampshire on Sunday to visit friends. (Did I mention that I held baby cashmere goats at the inn that had been born on Thursday? Oh, and I bought a pound of llama fiber from the inn's llamas--of course.)

In New Hampshire, I went to a lovely yarn shop in Lebanon called Country Woolens. It's a nice, basic shop that has a real New England practicality feel. They carry a lot of basic wools, probably more than I've seen anywhere. I bought two skeins of Cascade Fixation in a nice blue-gray colorway, two skeins of Regia Nation in the Germany stripes, and this Dale of Norway baby book.

We had a very nice time, although I wish I had the rest of the week off. It's always nice to see our friends from law school. Our friends in New Hampshire are great, in part because they have the most adorable daughters who are 4 and 1. We played and swam and had a great time with them.

Since there's no knitting in this post, I'll leave you with a photo of me with a few of my law school friends, minus the bride.

There will be Print O' The Wave progress next time, as well as some other projects.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ten things I learned this weekend

1. Some designers don't update their free patterns with known errata and expect you to email them instead.

2. A good Google search will always find said errata because someone has been there.

3. Counting to 240 is apparently beyond my skill level. (I think I forgot some lessons from elementary school.)

4. Using stitch markers every 100 stitches when you're picking up 480 stitches would have been a good idea.

5. Throwing a shawl knit on metal needles across the room solves nothing. In fact, a dozen or more stitches will fly off your needle as it sails across the room.

6. Yelling at your husband to shut up because you're counting accomplishes nothing. Neither does crying.

7. No matter what you are watching on television, some stupid character will start counting 1, 2, 3 right when you're at 234. You will start re-counting many, many times.

8. Realizing that somehow you're 15 stitches short of 240 is not a cause for panic. No one will notice if you locate the area with too few stitches picked up and kfb at fairly regular intervals.

9. When you realize that you and the designer apparently speak a different knitting language, causing you to perform acts of laceknitting heroism (i.e., drop down 4 stitches at each corner and create k2togs and YOs three rows down while maintaining the correct stitch count), do not curse her.

10. The edging will start to work out, and then you'll see two dropped stitches five 16-row repeats down. Safety pins are your friends!

As you can tell, there were a few problems encountered on the Print o' the Wave stole. I think there are errors on the inner border, or at least a large lack of clarity. If you need help, email me and I will tell you what worked for me. There are definite errors on rows 9, 11, 13, and 15 of the edging chart. The next to last knit stitch should be a k2tog on all these rows. I have no idea why a corrected version has not been posted. I'm very, very pleased with how it is turning out, though, despite the numerous problems I had this weekend.

In other news, I braved the laundromat to wash the Aran throw, and it turned out beautifully. As Laura has already told me, I'm sure the Cestari is going to pill, but it washes up into a really lovely fabric with just a bit of a halo. The cables relaxed, much of the vegetable matter came out, and the fabric is amazingly soft. I can't wait to take it to the wedding this weekend!

Since we are going to Vermont this weekend (and staying at an inn with a fiber farm and wool shop, I've decided to take a new project along. Because I have to be just like Laura (witness the Lady Eleanor Entrelac stole in SWTC Karaoke), I will be making the Go With the Flow tank from Inspired Cable Knits. Yes, the gauge is 29sts/4". Yes, I'm insane. But so is Laura. I will be picking up the Rowan 4-ply Cotton from The Yarn Connection this week.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Finally, A Throw!

So, remember that Aran throw I started way back when? Here it is! It's not yet washed/blocked, but I plan to do that this weekend.

Pattern: Cabled Throw, from Debbie Bliss Simple Living
Yarn: Cestari by Chester Farms, Natural Light Gray, 12 skeins
Needles: Crystal Palace Bamboo, US size 9

I believe I started this in February, and I let it languish for awhile and worked on other projects for a time. It took roughly three months, start to finish. I hit a wall so many times, and it didn't seem like I would ever finish at times. But I did. And it was worth it.

This is my first handspun baby alpaca--approximately 200 yards of 2-ply. I'm not crazy about the barber pole effect, but the finished product is extremely soft. I found alpaca more difficult to spin because it is so slippery, but other people find that quality a plus.

And, finally, here is my birthday present to myself. An Ashford Joy DT, for travelling to spinning guild meetings and further abroad. I love this wheel. I started spinning a beautifully dyed wool/mohair mix on it this weekend, and it looks gorgeous so far. I just wound a smallish skein of two unknown wools off the Schacht, and I plan to start spinning up one of my Maryland Sheep & Wool purchases soon.

An Anniversary (Knitting and Spinning Content Later)

Today is my second wedding anniversary. This morning, two years ago, my parents' house was filled with activity--putting last-minute touches on the tables outside for the reception, wondering how everyone would get to and from the church that morning, endless photographs and stress and emotion. But it was worth it. The wedding was amazing, and the marriage has been even better.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Amazing Lace--Meet Team Sooner!

I decided to join Laura and Monkee in the Amazing Lace Knit-a-long. I think this is my first official knit-a-long, and I've already broken one of the few rules. I'm a Sooner. No, not that kind of Sooner--the real kind. I started two days early, on Saturday. What can I say? It was a 3-day weekend and I want to try to finish the shawl in time to wear to a wedding July 1. As penance, I promise my next lace project will be a doily to make Monkee happy.

So, meet the team! You'll notice I'm not in the photo, because the photos with me in them turned out very badly.

The essentials are there: size 4 needles, about 1600 yards of Jaeger Zephyr, the pattern, and the indispensible Post-It notes. That's 8 repeats of the first half of the center; there will be 34 total repeats in the center, or 17 in each half. It's a relatively easy knit so far. I used Sharon Miller's provisional cast-on, which is extremely easy. Cast on the required number of stitches loosely in a yarn of a similar weight, knit one row, then join in the main yarn. When you pick up the stitches, you simply cut away the contrasting yarn. It's much easier than a crochet cast-on for me; I hope it works as well as I think it will.

The Amazing Knit button will be appearing in my sidebar soon. Once I have the motivation and time, I plan to do a bit of an overhaul of the sidebar and incorporate some helpful links.

Next up, photos of the completed throw, some alpaca handspun, and the new wheel!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

This weekend, I managed to make a lot of progress on the afghan, realizing I needed to finish it to preserve my sanity. I'm now halfway through the eleventh skein, with just one more skein to go! Given that the garter border will suck up a good portion of the final skein, I'm feeling very confident I can finish it this weekend, even with a spinning group meeting on Sunday.

That last bound of stitch is going to feel very good. The project hasn't been that bad; it's not difficult or even particularly time-consuming. But it's BIG and unwieldy and preventing me from knitting on other projects that have been languishing in the basket. I hope that the recipient really loves it, because it's been a good portion of my knitting time these last few months. (I think she will; I hope I've learned my lesson about knitting gifts that are really so I can show off.)

I also decided to add sleeves to the Green Gable top. I'm fairly dissatisfied with the finished product. It isn't as form-fitting as I would like, but I think 3/4 length sleeves will balance it out a lot. I may end up ripping back the castoff and taking off an inch or two, as well.

Next up are two newborn hat and booties sets for twin girls that will be born this summer. I'm excited about using the Ellen's Half-Pint Farm yarn for those! I also hope to finish Lady Eleanor Entrelac and another in-progress wrap, since my office is freezing all summer. Fingerless gloves may also be required.

The Ashford Joy isn't here yet, but it will ship this week! I've been obsessively checking my email and credit card statement, waiting for the shipment notification. I had hoped to have it by this weekend, but I don't think that will happen now. It will have to make its debut at the Seaport Second Saturday Spin-In next month, I guess. I can't imagine how it will feel to spin in front of others!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I did it!

I ordered the Ashford Joy DT from The Woolery today. Think this will assuage the wheel lust for awhile?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Maryland Sheep & Wool (Bonus: Adventures in Dyeing)

I had a great time at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival on Saturday! I shopped, tried out wheels, and met Pam and Jen! I'm relying on Pam's blog for photos of the day, since her husband Kris was busy filling his camera's memory card with photos of yarn and sheep (and I was too lazy to take my camera--needed room for fiber!).

I tried out five wheels, searching for a good wheel portable enough to take on the subway to spinning guild meetings. Here are the results, in order of preference:

1. Ashford Joy DT: I loved this wheel, even though I did not expect to. The treadling was very smooth, and I was able to spin right away on it, with minimal adjustments. It's lightweight and compact, especially with the addition of a padded carrying case. I couldn't find any downsides to this wheel, and it was all I could do to leave it at the festival.

2. Lendrum DT: This was also a great wheel, and it sold me on a Woolee Winder for my Schacht. I can see why so many people love the Lendrum--it's smooth and comfortable. The only drawback is portability. For my purposes, it's just too big. I really only tried it to see if I liked the Woolee Winder, but I would definitely try it if I was looking for a wheel to keep at home or transport in a car.

3. Journey Wheel: The Journey Wheel is a very interesting concept: a wheel that works very much like a vertical charka with treadles. It folds up into its own wooden box, and a padded carrying bag is available. I liked the wheel, but something did not fit me. In addition, it's fairly expensive at $800, and the box weighs quite a bit.

4. Wee Robin: I've never spun on one of the full-size Robin wheels, but they are beautiful, and their owners seem to love them. I really wanted to love the Wee Robin, for its great design and beauty and in spite of its $900 starting price. I tried it, and it felt a bit unbalanced. I don't know if it is a problem with the floor model, which is quite possible with dozens of people spinning on it daily, or if my treadling motion doesn't work well with a wheel this small and lightweight. It is not the wheel for me, though.

5. Majacraft Little Gem: I did not get along with this wheel. If you'd asked me which of the five I expected to like most, this would be it. The tiny wheel wanted to reverse on me with no warning, and the tension had either no uptake or ripped the yarn out of my hands. After about ten minutes of fighting, I gave up.

I've decided to wait until my birthday, later this month, to buy the Joy. I think this will satisfy my wheel lust for a bit. I've really wanted to be able to spin in front of others to get feedback.

On to the purchases! I was disappointed with The Fold. Apparently no one told them of the huge cult following Socks That Rock has right now. They sold out of all their skeins in less than two hours. Sock yarn is apparently very hot right now. I bought these two skeins from Ellen's Half Pint Farm--enormous at 500 yards per skein--and they were among the last dozen or so skeins she had.

I'll be knitting booties and hats for twin girls due later this summer, then socks for myself. I think I'll have enough to get two pairs of ankle socks in addition to the baby gifts. How's that for value?

I also found some nice handpainted superwash merino roving from The Yarn Barn. Each is 4 ounces, enough for a pair of socks each. I love the colors!

I also bought quite a bit of natural-colored roving: 2 pounds of Blue-faced Leicester from Haltwhistle Fibres, 1.5 pounds of Finn from Misty Mountain Farms, and 4 ounces of gorgeous Polwarth from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. The Polwarth was a definite splurge (and was quite overpriced), but it's very special. It will become a hat or pair of mittens for me, I think.

I had been toying with the idea of buying some professional dyes, having seen so many beautiful results from other bloggers, so I bought three jars of Jacquard dyes. I dyed some of my handspun today, which will become the Roxy Lady bag. Here is the process at work:

And the finished product--in a different color, of course:

I plan to buy some other colors soon and dye some of the beautiful roving I acquired this weekend!