Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Book Review: When Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a Marketing Manager from Taunton Press asking me if she could send me a free copy of a knitting book. Her hope was that I'd tell the other members of my knitting group about it, but I want to do one better and let all of you know about it too.

I've been knitting for almost 4 years now and I must confess publicly, although anyone at the last NYGK meeting knows already, I have no idea how to fix a dropped stitch. Seriously. When I drop a stitch, I usually drop the project. Or shriek and ask my Mom or Adrienne to "fix it, fix it, please, please, fix it!" (Thanks to both of you!)

I have plenty of knitting books, some even discuss this subject, but never with enough detail for me to feel confident that I know what to do. My search for detailed directions ended with When Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters (WBTHTGK) . Each and every direction, for the myriad of things that can go wrong while knitting, is written plainly with clear and concise illustrations. And this book covers EVERYTHING.

Marion and Ahza have over 100 years of knitting experience between them and a charming humor that you'll love. Think of them as your LYS owner, but available in the middle of the night in cute little book form.

Starting with explanations about what tools you need and the very basics for the new knitter, WBTHTGK moves on to intermediate skills like chart reading, making even decreases/increases and how to modify a pattern to suit your available yarn. There's even a chapter on how to finish your knit projects, complete with tips on seaming, blocking and not abandoning it for another day.

Full of amusing anecdotes about mistakes the authors have made and stories about their students, When Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters is an enjoyable read as well as handy guide. One of my favorite features is the International Laundering Symbols chart - ever wonder what those crazy symbols on your ball band means? This is the place to find out.

When Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters is a great addtion to your knitting library and compact enough to carry around in your project bag. And affordable, at about $10 - it's a great gift for your knitting friends.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I Don't Care If Monday's Black . . .

Friday I fell in love - deeply, deeply in love.

I spent Thursday making a complete mess of my kitchen once again . . .

I was nervous about my results, would the light colors be light enough, the brights bright enough?? It didn't rain on Thursday night so this yarn got extended outdoor drying time.

Friday morning I wound it into adorable little cakes. With each twirl of the swift my joy increased. The darker yarn looks just like a bright box of crayons and the lighter yarn is even and gorgeous.

Together they are beautiful . . .

But, I really want to finish Wicked and I really need to finish my Sockapalooza socks, so I've set this aside where I can admire it and will only let myself work on it when I reach goals with those two projects. Really. I promise.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On dyeing . . .

My SP9 partner sent me 5 skeins of KnitPicks Bare back in the day and I received the starter set of Jacquard Acid dyes for Christmas. I was initially putting off dyeing in an effort to not accidentally dye up a house I was trying to sell. Earlier this week I decided to risk it.

I am obsessed with the Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Ravelry is not helping this obsession, but instead enabling it. However, I got major sticker shock at the idea of buying $48 worth of Koigu to knit it!! This is Florida, I may be able to wear this scarf for 5 minutes, late at night in Mid-February. Maybe. I only spend $3.50 on my daily foot apparel, I'm not going to spend that much on something I can practically never wear.

But I am in love with this scarf. I love it like a fat kid loves chocolate and since I am that kid too, I know that this is a deep, deep love.

So inspired by the Alice I thought, why not dye my own?? And so I spent Monday dyeing and not knitting.

I dutifully soaked my yarn for an hour. Then spun it "dry" in the washing machine.

And after mixing up my dye and boiling and simmering and stinking up the house with vinegar-y smells, I hung my yarn out to dry.

This morning I caked it up. I've named it Rastafari.

Some things to note, this is not at all how I intended this yarn to look. See that crazy Christmas-y green?? It's supposed to be blue, but apparently there was yellow left in the pot - completely undetectable until it turned all my blue to green. And the red is a lot darker than I intended, these things are all my fault.
The directions said that 1 tsp. of dye would dye 100g of yarn, and that's exactly what I mixed together. The problem was that each skein is 100g and each color was only going on 1/3 of that skein. Result, dark dye. While I'm pleased to report it's not too light, this is again not what I intended.
Also, with the overlaps, I should have ended up with a pretty rainbow of colors. I used Red, Yellow and Blue dye, hoping for Green, Purple and Orange overlaps. I think the darkness of the dye canceled that result as well.
I think I'm going to try again, this time mixing the dyes a little lighter and using the squirt bottle technique. I can't use this yarn for the Chevron scarf I'm imagining, maybe I'll knit some socks. Two pairs of Rastafari socks . . .

Faster, faster

I'm **almost** finished the increase rounds on Wicked! I can't wait to be able to try it on and see that it's practically perfect in every way. :)

My sister sent me a Borders gift card for my birthday and yesterday I did some online shopping. I ordered Last Minute Knitted Gifts and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I've been an avid reader of her books since college and while I did check this one out from the library when it was first published, it's one of the few that I don't own. I decided to remedy that. Once it arrives, I plan to do some spine-breaking and read it again. :)

But I can't read if I'm knitting, so back to Wicked.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Birthday 2, the Saga Continues

Saturday the mailman brought me this delicious number from xsbaggage & co. You may notice that it matches my checkbook cover, this is not a mistake, this is incredible love of damask print. A love so incredible that I am considering this couch (in the Hovby print) for our new house. Back on topic, this was a gift from my friend Carlin in Boston, but I didn't know it until Tuesday when she called, over the weekend I just considered it the Mystery Gift and kept wondering if I'd actually ordered it for myself.

Wayne got me two dozen roses, and as he accurately reported, I have never received two dozen roses before. They're beautiful. He also got the girls up before he left for work and they all sang me happy birthday. It was very sweet.

Nicole totally rocked it out and not only came to drink fruity drinks with me on Sunday night, but also bought me fruity drinks - one bottle of the highly coveted, can never find it at my ghetto liquor store, Frambois. And when I'm nice and liquored up, I get to read the hilarious entertaining advice of the incomparable Amy Sedaris in I Like You. I have loved Amy's humor since Exit 57 and whether your a diehard or new fan, I highly recommend this book.

My parents hooked me up with Lost, the complete second season and my Mom was freaking out 'cause I still don't have Season 1 and she couldn't find it anywhere and why would I want Season 2 without Season 1 . . . well, I've already seen them so it's not a big deal Mom. Aaahh. :)

And Mr. Wickett, my pretend 2nd husband of R2D2 hat fame, completely oudid himself by getting me this:

Not sure what it is, follow this link.
Now take a deep breath while I tell you how crazy much this bag costs retail.
But Nick knows a woman who works at the LV store at our high end mall and they worked something out - I keep imagining he gave her a dolphin - and when she returns from NYC later this week I'll have a bag that costs more than my laptop that I'll be terrified to wear. :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Birthday Part 1 - Secret Pal Edition

You may remember that I like to blog about my birthday a lot, as evidenced here, here, here and here. This year I was lucky enough to be participating in Secret Pal 10 for my birthday and by lucky, I mean LUCKY!!!!! So today's post is going to be dedicated to the amazing final package I received last night from Guinifer.

I have to stop and first remind you about the awesomeness of Guinifer, you can see my previous packages, remember this and this. They in no way prepared me for this --

whiteoakstudio.etsy.com, TV Yarn: Breakfast at Tiffany's colorway sock yarn* - thanks to Harriet for pointing this out to me. :)

KnitPicks Merino Style in Dusk for the Cropped Cardigan in Stephanie Japel's Fitted Knits

Huge-normous ball of cotton yarn.

A cutie candle, sticky notes, a pencil holder that I'll totally use for holding DPNs, POCKY!! They were a little melty when I opened them last night, but today they look better. Melty Pocky and just as tasty as not-melty Pocky.

Chickens and My Little Ponies for the girls. :) I think they like them.

And this amazing bag that is lots bigger than I could capture in the photo. It's lots of different colorful fabrics and I totally heart it.
* On my wist. :) Guinifer is good at following directions.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hold me closer . . .

Tiny Dancer

These turned out awful since we couldn't take flash photos, but they give you an idea of how cute the whole shebang was. Ali is in the middle of each photo except for the bottom right where she's on the far right. This is only the very beginning of the dance, I started crying from ridiculous Mommy pride pretty quickly. When the DVD arrives I'm hoping to be able to post video . . . ooo, video. :)
Chloe, Alison, Mrs. Karen, Haley & Halle - a great class!
I'm ridiculously proud of how great Ali's hair looked. Velcro rollers are a dream.
The star of the show with her well deserved flowers and lollipop - note the death grip on the lollipop, she wouldn't let go of it the rest of the night.
Great job Ali! You're a star! :)

Friday, June 08, 2007

The "Big Stage" Is Upon Us

The school year has come to an end which means the dance year is over too. Tomorrow night is Ali's big recital and tonight is her last rehearsal - the 3rd one this week. This one is the whole-shebang dress rehearsal so last night we put in her velcro rollers and today I took her to SuperTarget in them. I hope no one thought I'm an awful child-exploiting, pageant mom, I'm just waiting until the last minute to take them out for maximum gorgeous. :)

After knitting a few more rounds on Wicked, I've completed half of the increase round pairs, I went to see if she was having any trouble sleeping.

More photos of our little princess and my birthday party on Monday. :)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Not Dead

Just been incommudicado (sp?) lately. It's a house-sale related roller coaster in our house lately and I'm not wanting to focus on it.
Instead, let's focus on happy things:

1. I seem to be getting used to the Peace Fleece I'm using for Wicked and really like the way the sweater is knitting up. It could go faster, but this is the way it is and I'm content.

2. My birthday is in 8 days! June 12th for those of you unwilling to do the math. I'm having a birthday party this year - last year I blew the whole thing off 'cause I was so darn pregnant - at Chevy's and hope to spend the evening with friends eating salsa and drinking margaritas. Wayne asked me what I want and I told him I just wanted to drink as many margaritas as I wanted without a sideways glance, I'm pretty sure he agreed 'cause he thinks he'll get lucky. :)

3. I have resisted a lot of temptation to not learn more about my Secret Pal who inadvertantly outed herself early.

4. Wayne's business is going great. Hooray for us!
5. Beautiful girls!