Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What's That?!?

I haven't yet written of my husband laying down the law, so to speak, with regards to my on-going knitting projects. My friends, he is a muggle, and does not understand the way of the fiber (or any craft really) - please bear this in mind as you read my tale. He is a lovely man & we have been married for ten years and I look forward to many more. I'd hate for your sole impression to be of this situation but it is a tale that must be told so I will tell it and ask that you not hold it against him (too much).

About two weeks ago, when I picked up the albatross blanket again my husband declared that I was "not allowed (what am I? ten years old?) to begin any new projects until the current ones are finished." This includes all my current knitting projects as well as two large cross-stitch projects (the x-stitch projects I admit, are a little behind schedule, having begun them at least 8 years ago. However, this does not take into account all the things I have completed in the meantime, but I digress).

I smiled and nodded, thinking "you just don't get it, do you?" I mean, I just found out I am having a little boy! This completely changes the scope and nature of my knitting. I need to knit boy things. I still have little girl things I want to make. I am easily bored and/or distracted. But for 12 days I struggled, I overcame, I was a good girl. I diligently worked on the Ruffled Ridges Baby blanket whenever I knit.

But yesterday... yesterday I realized that I had a project knitting class today. Two hours with a wonderful instructor who would answer all my questions. I simply could not work on The Blanket. I have no questions about The Blanket, except how to make it go faster. If I am paying for a class I need a project with questions and challenges. A quick inventory of my other WIPs revealed no issues. *gasp* I needed a new project and I needed it quickly. My husband was playing hockey and would be home in an hour and a half.

I quickly whipped out the next project in line: The Royal Baby Set from Blue Sky Alpacas. I want to bring the Piglet-to-Be home from the hospital in this set. I wanted to use a different yarn so I swatched and found my gauge was a bit large but better too big than too small with baby clothes so I cast on and worked my way through the first ten or so rows. When my husband came home I was knitting away and he said nothing. About half an hour later he turned to me and said, "What's THAT?"
I calmly explained and gave him my reasoning. He looked bewildered. Oh well. I can't really expect him to understand, now can I?

But you understand. This is the back of the wrap sweater. I'm using Crystal Palace's Bunny Hop Yarn which is a microfiber with just a touch of angora thrown in (8% I think), the color is #2302. Knitting on US 4 needles.

After working on The Blanket, this is so much fun. It just seems to fly by! This is my first sweater and I am glad I picked a baby sweater, it seems much less daunting this way. Until next time!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hiding in My Ziploc Bags

Just a quick post tonight as it is late and I would like to knit at least ONE little stitch before I crash. A couple days ago I showed you my albatross, I mean, my baby blanket in progress but I have a couple other things on the needles and hibernating in Ziploc.

First up, a classic baby bonnet.
Yup. I know it doesn't look like much now but someday it will grow up to be the Baby Bonnet & Socks from Blue Sky Alpacas. I just hope that happens before my little girl grows up! I am using Classic Yarns DK Cashsoft instead of the silk the pattern suggests. The color is a really lovely lilac/lavender (#502 Bella Dona). I plan to make the socks as well and I have recently started to think that Pooh Bear might need the Amelie Dress from Natural Knits for Babies & Moms, you know, to tie the whole thing together. I mean, I could find the time to knit the dress, it isn't like I have 18 other items on my list of things to knit... oh wait. I have 21 items on my wish list. And my bathrooms need cleaning. Maybe I could skip the bathrooms and not sleep for a few weeks?

The other RIP item (that's resting in plastic, not resting in peace! I will get it done. Someday.) is my Razor Shell Lace Scarf.
This is a pattern from Hilltop Yarn, my LYS. The yarn is the simply marvelous Blue Sky Alpacas Royal in Antique Black. It is actually slightly darker than the above picture shows but this picture showed the pattern (at least somewhat) so I went with it. Y'all can imagine it darker. This scarf is actually a present to me so it will probably be back-burnered from here to eternity. All right, I'm off to knit, hopefully I won't fall asleep in the act of opening the bag.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Seattle Cupcake Tour, Part 1

My sweet tooth seems to increase ten-fold when I am pregnant so I thought I would take advantage of that fact and really put my nose to the grindstone for all of you out there and taste test some of the cupcakes that are popping up all over Seattle (I know, an extremely tough job, but I think I'm your gal).

First up on the docket: the Vanilla Cupcake at Starbucks. I had this as a snack earlier today accompanied by a sugar free Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Here's my takeaway:
  • The Cake - The yellow cake was just what I like, spongy and moist but not gummy. Sweet but not overly so. I'd call it a classic yellow cake taste (some get really vanilla-y but this one stopped short of that with more of a buttery undertone).
  • The Icing - Honestly? A disappointment. Just kind of blah. I was really excited because the icing showed evidence of the vanilla bean (the telltale little black specks) but the richness wasn't there. Not cloyingly sweet, which was good, but, if you'll pardon the pun, just plain vanilla taste-wise. Also, I had a problem with the raw sugar decoration around the rim of the icing. It made for a very nice presentation but the resulting crunchy icing was just the wrong texture for me. I want my icing to be smooth and melty, not like I accidentally dropped my cupcake in the sand at the beach.
  • Overall Impression - Not bad, but not great either... The cake itself I would go back for but the icing did nothing for me. I'll skip the cupcake next time and have something else. If I am going to pay for a cupcake (which I can quite easily make at home to good effect), it had better be outstanding.

A final note: I apologize for not having a picture to accompany this post but I was halfway through the cupcake before the inspiration for the Cupcake Tour hit. Next time there will be photos...

Next up on the Cupcake trail: Cupcake Royale in Ballard (I already have a trip planned for the middle of next week). I also have Trophy Cupcake in Wallingford on my list of places to go but if you have any suggestions for Seattle area cupcake havens let me know.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I feel Knitty!

Let me start by saying that I am fickle and it seems my fickleness is at an all time high. After totally changing my color scheme for this blog this morning I have now scrapped all that and picked a new template altogether. This is better. For now. Tune in tomorrow... Someday I'll figure out how to have my own banner and other nifty features like so many of the blogs I admire but, for now, I have other priorities...

A finished object for instance? It is true. I have finished something! This is a Strawberry Hat.

The pattern is Ann Norling's Fruit Cap. I used Aurora 8 Merino Wool in #5 Crimson and #1145 Hunter Green knit on Susan Bates Quicksilver circulars (US 7) and skacel wood dpn (US 7).
As modeled by my Pooh Bear:
*This photo is a little fuzzier than I expected, it looked good elsewhere. Oh, well.*
This was my first real foray into colorwork (I had done stripes before but that doesn't count) and it was not as difficult as I had anticipated which makes me very happy. I think the little Piglet-to-be may get a blueberry version...

I have to say that I felt like a "real" knitting blogger today. Racing outside to quickly snap a few photos while my daughter took a nap. That's right, a few photos - there is more to see!

Here is my major WIP at the moment, the Ruffled Ridges Baby Blanket:
The yarn is a bit deeper/darker than shows here but at least you can see the pattern in this picture.

I'm almost a third of the way done which is very exciting since I was about 1/30 of the way done a week ago when I picked this project up again after a year+ hiatus. I'm trying to stay motivated, but it is a bit grinding, row after 161 stitch row (not that I'm counting). I'm a slow knitter so I aim to complete one 8 row pattern each day. At that rate I'll be done by the end of March. I hope. I have so many other things I want to do, so many cute things lined up... not to mention the other two WIPs I have in the bag.

Time to go if I'm going to get any knitting done before Pooh Bear wakes up. I'll leave you with one last picture, just in case you think it always rains in Seattle...

A tisket, a tasket...

After posting my epic last light I realized that the colors here on my blog weren't doing anything for me so this morning I changed them. Control is a beautiful thing. I pushed a few buttons and made a few clicks and voila! I now have a blog page that reminds me of an Easter egg! Do you think I'm ready for Spring to hurry up and get here?

More later... I'm waiting to see if we get a sun break or two so I can take a few pictures.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

the promised knitting content, but first...

I have been knitting... there is knitting to write about but before I get to that I simply must get something off my chest.

NBC is cancelling Studio 60. I am crushed. Devastated. Beside myself. They are canceling it due to lack of ratings so my guess is that there aren't many of you out there who feel my pain (damn it. it is all your fault... why didn't you watch???) I love this show! It is amusing, cleverly written and has good characterizations. It has real actors for goodness sakes, not just Joe Schmoe from down the street doing something ridiculous to gain his 15 minutes of fame and a few bucks. My hubby and I watch the show each week. Sometimes I watch it live and sit through the commercials without using a tivo-like product! That is how much I love this show (I record everything, I can no longer deal with the agony of sitting through a couple minutes of commercials... must. fast. forward.) NBC doesn't know when they will air the remaining 6 episodes. Talk about adding salt to the wound. Not only do I have to deal with the loss of my favorite show, I have to wait in limbo for the network to decide when I can find out what happens next. What will happen the Harriet and Matt? Will Tom and Lucy ever manage to go on their first date? And what about Danny and Jordan? Argh. This is the only new show I invested in this past fall and this is the thanks I get. My husband follows many shows: Lost, Heroes, Survivor, the list goes on. Me? Not very many (Studio 60, Numbers, CSI:original flavor and sometimes Miami, and Las Vegas) and Studio 60 is the only one I get upset about missing. Oh well. Seems that my luck with Bath & Body Works scents has transferred to tv shows, ie. if I like it, it won't be around for long.

OK. whew. So sorry about that, but jeez...

Onward to knitting!

Please alert the media, I have been knitting! That is, I think that is what it is called when I wrap the the yarn around the two pointy sticks, right? It has been so long...

So here's the saga (wow. this was going to be a short post but after my rant and now with my throwing around the term "saga" I think we can toss that idea into the scrap heap): I started knitting when I was 5 months pregnant with my daughter, Pooh Bear. I couldn't continue with my normal outlet activity, dancing (ballet & modern), because my body was no longer cooperating so I thought knitting seemed like the thing to do when you were expecting a baby. In the normal way of things I signed up for a weekly class and was hooked. That was in October 2006. Unfortunately, when December rolled around my body decided to start retaining every single molecule of water in the atmosphere and I swelled up so badly that I got carpal tunnel in both wrists. It was so bad the knitting had to be curtailed. Actually, I probably could have continued knitting had I been able to not type at work. That was not an option, typing being a major part of my job at the time, so the knitting suffered (I understand some might see this as a poor decision. I, too, wonder if I would have been better off picking the knitting). Anyway, my daughter was born in late January 2007 and I was caught up in the "OMG, what have I done, I have this little being that I created and now must be responsible for" swirl of things and knitting was really not a priority. I wanted it to be. I thought about it a lot but just could seem to squeeze it in. BTW, should any of you moms who claim to "knit while nursing" happen to read this post, please do email me. I am rather agile but cannot even begin to fathom the mechanics that make this possible. As I am having another baby in July, I am desperate to figure it out. Th upshot of all this is that with a few tiny exceptions (finishing off a couple gifts for friends that only needed seaming, the Candy Corn hat at Halloween, a few classes back in December) there has been no knitting!

All the adorable little projects I had lovingly picked out and planned for my daughter? Still in stash form. The baby blanket I had begun? It only had 33 of 300 rows complete. We're talking virtually no knitting in over a year! And yet I am still knitting obsessed. Clearly things could not continue in this manner.

And happily they have not. Two weeks ago I signed up for a project knitting class at my lys. Two hours of guaranteed knitting a week! Yippee! At the same time, my husband and I have finally managed to establish a bedtime routine for our daughter. Free time at night = knitting time! Amazing! And then, the discovery of not one knitting group I can attend, but two!!! My knitting cup runneth over. I have knit nine out of the last ten days (no knitting yet today as I wanted to blog and I only have two hands *sigh*).

There has been progress made on the aforementioned baby blanket, it almost is beginning to look like it might be a blanket instead of a scarf! So, what about this blanket, eh? It is the Ruffled Ridges pattern from Fiber Trends (pictured in pink in the link). I'm actually knitting it in a beautiful navy (Blue Sky Alpacas hand Dyed Cotton in #624 Indigo). I know, I know. Navy was an odd choice since I started this blanket for my daughter but I love navy. And now it will be perfect because I can make it for my new little boy instead (doing everything in my power to keep up the momentum so I can complete before his arrival in July). I promise a picture in my next post, I'm just to lazy to get the camera right now, and it is nighttime and it would be great to have natural light for a photo, and... you get the idea.

Lest you think my daughter will be denied her mommy-made blanket, fear not! I have already picked out a blanket pattern for her (and I have the yarn) but more about that and my recent stash enhancement next time. This post is already into quadruple overtime and needs to come to a close so you will just have to wait! (I think Dickens was really onto something when he created/popularized the whole cliffhanger concept...)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Look, I'm still Here! and I can still ramble...

Howdy. Been quite a while... I intended to write regularly but, um... not so much in practice. I have excuses (who doesn't?): we moved, we had the whole family here for Thanksgiving... Ok, that really only covers November doesn't it? But wait, just like Ginsu knives - there's more! At the endof November my hubby was offered an interesting job opportunity in California so we planned to move (again). Beginning in December he was commuting between Seattle and California each week so I was Pooh Bear's sole caregiver and I just couldn't find the energy to post (the idea being that Pooh Bear and I would move down to CA late February to mid-March).

*A quick aside here - I have SOOOOOOOOO much respect and admiration for single parents now. I have no idea how you do it. You must be stronger than I am! Actually, I've been impressed by single parents ever since my daughter was born but now my admiration has increased a hundred-fold.*

At any rate, life felt unbelievably crazy and I was anxious about picking up everything and heading down the coast. I felt overwhelmed by being with my daughter every moment of practically every day. I felt guilty for feeling like I was going to lose my mind if I spent one more minute with my daughter who is so cute and adorable, who I love dearly, and who really is well behaved. I just felt trapped. I was mad at my husband for putting me in a situation that made me anxious, depressed and guilty. Then I felt more guilty for being mad at him for seizing a great career opportunity - how selfish could I be? I was not a happy camper. My poor husband. I nearly tore his head off every time I saw him. It was ridiculous. All week I couldn't wait for him to come back home and then when he arrived I was a woman possessed. I was not nice. I yelled, I screamed, I pouted. I was a three year old (that might be an insult to three year olds). I was stressed and depressed and handled it extremely badly.

And then, an end of January miracle. The clouds parted and the sun appeared. After a meltdown involving a multitude of tears on my part and some job dissatisfaction on Hubby's part, we changed our minds. California was not going to happen. It was like flipping a switch. I'm happy to say I am now a normal person again. Seriously. Like it never happened. I am ecstatic. I can now really unpack and settle into the beautiful new house we purchased in October. I can plan Pooh Bear's room decor (pink! gotta get it in before she gets older and hates one her mom's favorite colors).

Even better, Hubby is transitioning out of the CA job which means he is AT HOME, ALL DAY! We can all spend time together! It is fantastic! Last week, the three of us went shopping downtown - on a Thursday. During the day. What a concept! It was a blast :)

So there you have it. My excuses. Moving, Family Holiday, Moving Again, Meltdown. But now: Rebirth. Which brings me to my last mitigating circumstance for my slackness over the last three and a half months...

A baby! That's right. Pooh Bear will get to be the Big Sister. A little brother is expected in mid-July. Very exciting! I feel so trendy as many of my favorite blog writers are also pregnant. It is kind of neat to follow everyone else's progress as they go on this incredible journey.

Anyway, I'll go now. Maybe tomorrow I'll have some knitting content... There has been knitting - at least in the last couple weeks, post-January miracle :)