Sunday, February 26, 2006

Feelin' a little like Sasha Cohen

I said I'd reward myself the silver if I made it halfway through the second sock, so there it is. With absolutely no time to knit on Days 11, 12, and 13 (having gone into rehearsal for my next show), I only just managed to cast on and knit about six rows. Friday night, I sat down and accomplished this:

Saturday morning, I got a lot done -- about 30 rows. With rehearsal Saturday afternoon and dinner and a show on Saturday night, I added just about 5 more after we returned. Today, I woke up and did 30 rows before heading out in the afternoon, but when I returned my hands were pretty cramped. I decided not to push it. Here's where things stand tonight, as I watch the closing ceremonies:

Not bad -- very nearly done with the leg, and the foot is much easier without all that lace. I should finish this week, and that's the true reward -- gold medal or not, at the end of the day I'll have a nice pair of socks.

I wish we knitters got to have a big closing ceremony, with us all waving our FOs and not-quite-FOs in the air as we march triumphantly into Stadio Olimpico, no doubt to the tune of some terrible pop song.

Congrats to all the participants! And good night!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Week One = One sock

I haven't been blogging. I've been knitting. Oh, yeah, and somewhere in there was Stitches West -- four classes in three days, three large bags of yarn and other sundries purchased.

But at the end of it all, I have a sock! And it's beautiful and it fits. I'm going to reward myself the bronze medal right now just for getting one sock done. I may have to kill myself to get the second sock done, but even if it doesn't happen, I feel pretty good about accomplishing one.

Here's the quick wrap-up of the last few days:

Days 4 & 5:

So little accomplished on the sock that these days hardly count! We did have a lovely Valentine's dinner at 231 Ellsworth on Monday, and saw "Brokeback Mountain" on Tuesday. No way could I knit complicated lace patterns in the dark.

Loved the movie, but the idiots at the Century Theatres in downtown San Mateo had WASHED THE SEATS that afternoon. By this, I mean that they had sprayed the seats with water so that the aroma of human sweat and spilled sugary soda pervaded the theatre. We also had to SIT on these seats. By the end of the movie, half the theatre looked as if we had wet our pants. To their credit, they did refund our money, but their short-sightedness was amazing to me. They said they thought it would be a slow night at the theatre. Valentine's Day? A major date night? Not to mention the fact that this is the most critically acclaimed romance of the year? Hellooooo, people.

Day 6:

I headed over to Nine Rubies, our lovely new San Mateo LYS, for social knitting, but unfortunately I finished up ball #1 quickly and ball #2 was at home. So I sat in front of the TV and watched some skiing while plugging away at the leg of the sock. And then, like Lindsey Kildow during training, distaster struck! I missed a couple of yarn-overs and didn't notice, blithely knitting on until, about five rows later, I realized I didn't have the right number of stitches to decrease properly! I tried to drop a few stitches back and add in the decreases, but I knit pretty tightly and it just wasn't possible. I frogged the whole thing back and then had quite a time trying to get the teensy little stitches back on the teensy little needles. The DH needs special kudos for bearing with me during the 45 minutes of frustrating wasted time this all entailed.

Day 7:

After work, it was off to a friend's 40th birthday dinner at Buca di Beppo. Stuffed to the gills with eggplant parmigiano and fried shrimp, I managed a few rows after we got back. (Fortunately, I stayed away from the Chianti, or we might have had a repeat of yesterday.)

Day 8:

I was supposed to work at home in the morning, but my webmail account was down, so after I'd made a few phone calls, I had nothing to do but knit! At this point, I crept toward the end of the long leg section, then headed down to Stitches for my first class of the weekend, "Two Hands, Two Colors" with Sally Melville, my absolute favorite knitting teacher.

By the end of the afternoon, I could do Fair Isle! Gotta love it. I can't wait to do my first Fair Isle project, and I spent much of the class blessing Nancie Wiseman for successfully teaching me Continental in TKGA last April. I love holding a color in each hand, far superior (in my opinion) to any other way of doing it.

At random moments in the class, I picked up my sock for a row or two, thinking that I wouldn't have much more time to knit that day, since I had to drive up to Berkeley for callbacks that evening. Fate had other things in mind, however -- I ended up stuck in terrible traffic with no way of getting to my destination by 7, let alone 6, my planned arrival time. I abandoned hope of joining the director and choreographer, called in to let them know I was stuck, and made a left turn across the bridge to home and a cozy evening with my sock. Leg finished, heel begun.

Day 8:

Officially halfway through the Olympics, and the first sock ain't done. And not much chance to knit today! First there's Nancie Wiseman's "Intarsia Basics," and by lunchtime I can add Intarsia to my list of new color knitting skills. Lunch with Spinnity, a quick dash through the marketplace, where I purchase a little more alpaca for the DH hat/scarf at Yarn Barn. In the afternoon, it's back to Sally for "Creativity," a fun, mind-opening class that's mostly lecture, so I knit away at my little sock and turn the heel, which is no big deal as far as I can tell -- not sure why it's supposed to be so challenging.

Then I dash back to the marketplace and make some more purchases, yarn at Webs, buttons at the Button Lady, and Nicky Epstein's new book signed by the lady herself. So far very little financial damage done. Then we had a birthday dinner to run to, and a play to run to after that, and then I crawled into bed and only knit a couple of rows. One more day gone, and still lots of sock to do.

Day 9:

I wisely did NOT sign up for a class Sunday morning, so after sleeping in a bit I headed out for a calm stroll through the marketplace. Fewer people, much more mellow, which put a bit of a strain on my pocketbook resolve. Particularly when I came across the must-own kits from Drops yarns, sold at a knitting store in Washington state. I got a cute bolero kit on green alpaca and mohair with a bit of sparkle. Then I bought some yarn at Hand Jive Knits from Sacramento. Then I bought some more buttons, from Buttons! in Calistoga.

I was starting to get a bit reckless, you know that "I've already gone over budget, what does it matter now" feeling. I got some Debbie Bliss cashmerino Astrakhan on sale, and some sparkly colorful Wool in the Woods for a certain birthday project. Luckily a call from Spinnity saved me from more spending, and I went to sit with a bunch of Santa Clara and San Mateo Meet-up friends in the stage area, to eat lunch, knit, and wait for the grand prize drawing of $750. Lo and behold, it went to Bogie! We all gave her a standing ovation, she was totally overwhelmed. If anyone deserves it, she does, my dear Fairy Godknitter who helped make the extra Shawlapalooza for my wedding!

My afternoon class was "Keeping Trim," my first ever with Lily Chin, and I have to say, believe the hype. She is funny and creative and clever, and she taught us a number of useful trims for the bottom of sweaters that won't curl or cling or make you look pregnant, and showed us a lot of great new stitch patterns and techniques to use just about anywhere. She's very high energy and New York-y, but she didn't flog her books or spend half the time self-promoting, which is what I was afraid of. I prefer Sally's laid-back hippie Canadian charm, but I would certainly put Lily on my good-teachers list.

By the end of the class, I was exhausted, and ready to curl up with my sock. The DH and I met up at Spinnity and Bill's for dinner and yarn-sharing. The foot of my sock was growing, and a new problem presented itself -- there was no way I was going to finish this sock without running out of yarn. Sure, I had two more balls at home, but those are for the other sock! What to do!

Day 10:

I made an emergency run to Nine Rubies for more sock yarn. Unfortunately, they don't carry Rowan 4-ply Yorkshire tweed. Choices -- order on-line, wait, risk missing Knitting Olympics deadline, not to mention a totally different dye lot. Or do the toes in a different color. The second option started to appeal to me; after all, then my socks would be truly unique! Nine Rubies yielded plenty of gorgeous colors of 4-ply Scottish tweed, which is a little loftier than Yorkshire but claims to have the same gauge. I got a nice contrasting burgundy. I actually really like how it's turned out. My lack of patience has resulted in something truly lovely.

The sock was finished about 11:30 last night with the painstakingly grafted toe (thanks again to Sally M for last year's Good Grafting class notes). I will never like grafting, but it did work and the sock is done, except for weaving in ends and adding the cute ribbon bow trim (which will be burgundy to match the toes, of course).

So I'm 10 days in, only 6 to go including today. Can I do another sock, especially now that I have rehearsals every night? Solani and Sudha at Nine Rubies cheered me on yesterday, making me think that just maybe, if I give up a certain amount of sleep and sanity, I could do it. Time to give it that old Olympic try.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sean White rules, but so do I

While watching Sean White kick snowboarding butt, and poor Apollo Ohno not even get to compete, I completed my goal for the day -- 42 rows of the pattern, the complete first chart!

And some unexpected news in the Knitting Olympics world: Team San Mateo has a new surprise member! My DH picked up the needles for the first time since childhood to make me a coaster to match the one I gave him. The yarn is GGH Samoa in a nice green. He's using my size 7 needles. And honestly, for his first two rows, he's doing pretty well, even if he looks a bit annoyed.

Immediately after I took this photo, he returned to playing Civilization IV.

The next two evenings are somewhat busy ones, with Valentine's Day and all, but I'm setting the modest goal of completing the next 29 rows of the pattern and 1 decrease row. 15 rows a day, pretty manageable. Wednesday is meet-up night, and I'm hoping to get to the heel that night -- another 42 rows, but shorter ones, so I might make it. The heel terrifies me slightly, I might need a little help from the sock goddesses.

If the first sock is finished by next Saturday, I'm in great shape to finish the second by the closing ceremonies. However, Stitches looms large on the horizon. It's kind of like suddenly broadcasting a Nascar race in the middle of the Olympics... oh, wait, they're doing that.

A busy day, a rest for the hands

Day Two:

When I woke up Saturday morning the cramps were gone from my hands -- the exercises seem to have worked. It was a very busy day, not very much knitting time, but I got a good start on the leaf lace pattern of the body of the socks. Here's a different angle, with a bamboo chopstick mat backdrop (a present from Bill and Spinnity):

So far it's not difficult, and the size 2's aren't killing me.

Let the games begin!

Day One:

Marathon couch session during the opening ceremonies.

Cast on and knit 25 rows. Challenges: #@*! tiny 1.5 needles. I was determined to finish the ribbing, and I did, but I had to do some major hand exercises afterwards. Felt MUCH better when I switched to #2's; it's amazing what half a needle size can do. Here's what I had at midnight:

And here's the goal. One sock certainly doesn't seem impossible, but can I do two?

Monday, February 06, 2006

A good month for FOs

I've been waiting to blog until I finally had some photos to show. I'm very pleased with my January output -- my butt may permanently weld to the couch, and I have watched a LOT of Veronica Mars and Battlestar Galactica (not that there's anything wrong with that), but I have a bunch of FOs to show for it!

Here's the Kaalund Waterlilies scarf from a yummy Wizard of Yarns find:

I love this scarf; it matches with everything I own and it's nice and long. I cast on length-wise instead of width-wise, and did just a few very long rows of garter stitch, then added fringe -- very simple, and shows off the thick-and-thin yarn really well. I wear it about every other day; on the off days I'm wearing the Anny Blatt scarf that was my second project ever. Here's the Anny Blatt taking a trip to the Palace of Fine Arts:

That was a great day -- we took Princess M to the Exploratorium for the first time. I should also mention that it was my DH's first time at the Exploratorium. I'm not sure who was more excited.

Here's Ethan's car backpack, finally finished and ready to go to the little guy (one of CNITU's pals). It's in Karabella Aurora 8 and GGH Samoa. Please note the cute VW Bug button and racecar lining:

I knit this little hat on the way back from SoCal, for CNITU2. It's from Crystal Palace Kid Merino held together with Filatura di Crosa Millefili Fine, my own design:

Including the onesie and Heidi's gloves, that's five FOs in the month of January! If I can keep that up, it'll be a record year. I also started the Hourglass sweater from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, one of my favorite books. I've got the body and one of the sleeves done now, but here's what it looked like a couple of weeks ago:

It's in Noro Cash Iroha. This yarn is so amazing it should be illegal. Miles of stockinette stitch, but never boring because, oh my god, the yarn!

You might notice that the FOs have a deep, sexy Espresso wood background. This is my new Stinson coffee table from Pottery Barn (or, as Spinnity likes to call it, Poverty Barn.) I swear to you, we went to buy bedside tables, and this followed us home. It was on sale! I swear! It has five deep drawers that can be pulled out from either side. They were designed especially for yarn. At least, that's what I'm telling the DH. He asked politely if he might have just one of the five, but he has yet to come up with anything better suited to these drawers than yarn. Just look at this Patagonia, you can tell it feels right at home:

These random leftovers look quite cozy:

I don't think I've ever been quite so enamored of a piece of furniture. I may have to betray it soon, however, because we have purchased the matching 16-drawer CD Console. It's clearly named a "CD Console" for purposes of deluding non-knitting SOs into buying it. CDs can be stored on computers. But yarn... yarn can live in deep, dark, espresso-stained drawers. Yum.