Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"I'm 90% Kelsey Grammer"

Or "It was a slow day at work, so I surfed the net."

You scored as Beast. Beast is an intelligent, politcal spokesman for the X-Men. He has a Ph.D in Genetics and is well versed in literature. He may look like a blue fuzzy monster, but deep down he's very benevolent and logical. Powers: Enhanced strength and agility













Jean Grey






Emma Frost




Most Comprehensive X-Men Personality Quiz 2.0
created with

I saw the movie and was disappointed. I really liked the first two installments, but this last stand (if it is the last - predictably, the ending was a tease...) didn't have the same careful character development that made the other movies so interesting to watch.

FYI, Nestle Kit Kats do indeed taste different from Hershey Kit Kats. The Nestle chocolate is milkier and less sweet. The bars are a little longer - some weird metric conspiracy to confuse and disorient me - and they have "Have more breaks with Kitkat" stamped on the top and "Kit Kat" stamped all over the bottom. Tres chic!

On the knitting front, I am about to embark on chart 2 of Icarus. I'm a little ways into ball 2 of the Knit Picks Shadow. Wish me luck! I'll need it. The Bea sweater is not entirely a lost cause. After about 6 tries, I managed to fumble my way through one repeat, and yes, Virginia, there is a lattice pattern! I'll post a picture when I've fully recovered from the shock.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Thank You Secret Pal!!!

My Secret Pal is so awesome! She sent me my very own copy of One Skein plus the Karajan recording of Beethoven's 9th. Ode to Joy indeed! I was humming that tune all the way to and from the Prairie Home Companion Show at Wolf Trap on Saturday (College Park to Vienna is about 30 miles each way, so that's a lot of Beethoven!). One Skein is a great book, with some creative and inspired uses for the odd balls in our lives. I went for a dive in the stash to try to find some projects (because you know I have absolutely nothing on the needles right now - NOT). So far I'm thinking maybe a little purse with Paton's merino and perhaps some knitted cupcakes for dessert. Thanks so much, Secret Pal!!!

The Frankenbag is all knit up:
I need to sew the handles on and then felt this puppy. I did a bit of vicarious shaping (no rules, remember?) so it came out pleasantly oval shaped. I like it, though I'm trying not to get too attached to the curviness - not sure if the shaping will survive felting.

I finally got around to seaming the second Last Minute Pullover. I finished knitting the pieces ages ago and then set them aside, thinking "Oh I've got plenty of time." My cousin's scheduled to give birth tomorrow, so good thing I finally got around to it. This morning was for knitting the collar and weaving in ends. Ta da!! Pardon the crappy phone picture. I'll post a better one later, hopefully a nice action shot with the new owner...

Thursday, May 25, 2006


These were waiting for me at work Wednesday morning:

What a splendid present from Nivene! She's my new coworker who so generously shared some of her secret stash of British candy.

Oh. my. goodness. Chocolate! And it's not just any chocolate either. I haven't had a Bounty bar in about 20 years! How sad is that?? We had them all the time in Saudi Arabia, but then you couldn't get American staples like M&Ms and Mr. Goodbar (and pork - I missed that too). I guess the grass is always greener (or the chocolate's always better) on the other side. Bounties are like almondless Almond Joys, or Mounds with milk chocolate instead of dark. I had one of the Aero bars last night and the verdict is they're fabulous! I really like the texture from the air bubbles throughout the center. It's kind of the same play on texture as the Cadbury Crunchies, encept with chocolate instead of toffee. The Kit Kat is intriguing. I always thought it was a Hershey candy, but apparently the UK version is the original. Nivene swears the Nestle one is better. I'm off to investigate....

Monday, May 22, 2006

Steeee-rike Two

I decided to take another stab at Bea's cable while watching the 24 season finale. Probably not the greatest idea. It was hard to concentrate in the face of all that gripping television. This chart would be well suited to a Masterpiece Theatre period piece ("knit four, stroll through the English countryside, cable 2 forward, suspect Mr. Knightly loves you, repeat"). It's not so good for a real-time show with as many cliffhangers as characters. It took multiple trial runs, using thicker yarn, larger needles and a enlarged chart, but I eventually got some pretty diamonds. Yay! I did a little victory dance, frogged my "training swatch" and turned my attention to Bea itself. So, am I back on track?
Not exactly. At least this time they look like well-tended tangly vines. That's an improvement, but not quite what I wanted. I think I'll have to take this to the knitting group at work. Must seek counsel from some wise knitters.

For now, I have Icarus to console me. There's no point in a new photo: pattern-wise, it's the long dark teatime of the soul. I hope to finish chart 1 by the end of the week.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I'm working my way through Icarus. Here it is at the third repeat of chart 1:
Emboldened by my progress on the shawl, I indulged in a bit of startitis yesterday and cast on for Bea from Rowan Little Treasures. Things were going swimmingly (check out the pleat! Cute, no?):

I should emphasize the were. I got to the charted cable section for the bodice area and proceeded to make a total hash of it.
Hmmm, I thought it was supposed to be a pretty diamond pattern, kinda lattice-like. I can't blame this on my poor photography skills. Mine looks more like knotted vines. I'll give it a rest and come back when my head clears.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Balancing Act

The Icarus Shawl somewhere in the first repeat of chart 1. I cast on a few days ago using KnitPicks Shadow lace in Grape Jelly (yay, stash knitting!).

I've never knit from a chart before, so there was some apprehension, but the worst trouble spot I've had so far is with the gauge. The pattern calls for Alpaca Yarn Co. Suri Elegance, whose suggested gauge is 7st/in on US 3. The pattern's gauge is 5.75 st/in on US3, blocked. Shadow's gauge is listed as "laceweight (2/16)." Not really sure what that means. Is that 16 st/in (I hope not! I'd need a microscope!) or maybe 8 st/in? Undeterred, probably because I didn't know what the hell was going on, I swatched. I'm a pretty loose knitter so my general rule of thumb is to go down a few needle sizes if I'm using the same gauge yarn. I decided to ignore the inconvenient fact that I didn't really know what Shadow's gauge was. I started on 2mm and got 9 st/in. I went up to 3mm and got 7 st/in. (Incidentally, I also learned that there is no US equivalent to 3mm needles - it's between a US2 and a US3.) Because I'm lazy and impatient, I didn't wash the swatch. I convinced myself (with very little effort) that: (a) I would have enough yarn no matter what and that (b) Shadow would grow exactly the same amount as the recommended Suri after blocking, just because I wanted it to. I'll make all this know, with the power of my mind.

As a counterpoint to the restrictive fiddlyness of lace, I'm also knitting on this:
I envision a felted Franken-bag, an object of unique construction and dubious parentage. I'm using two skeins of celery colored Lopi (thanks, Aida!), the recently acquired skeins of Manos (sooo pretty and wonderfully soft) and pink Bernat Matrix, plus Bernat Boa from the stash. There's no pattern, I just cast on a bunch of stitches and knit in the round. I'm trying to disperse the non-felting materials around, so as not to get any weak spots or holes in the final product. Apart from that, there are no rules! I change colors whenever I want and I'll stop when I get bored or run out of yarn. Take that, Early 21st Century Society!

And in keeping with all this purpleness, here's a beauty from my mom's garden:
Makes you forget the cloudy DC skies!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Post-Jersey Post

We headed off to the Garden State Saturday morning, me with blanket and laptop in tow (still have my last paper to finish). The last ball of cotton was mesmerized by the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel lights. Ooooooo.....

For my SP: a big howdy to your peeps in Rising Sun!

I was casting the blanket off my needles as we got to my cousin's house. Here's the new blankie making itself at home:

"Home" for my cousin is a really nice small town with its very own yarn store. "Home" also has 4 rug stores, but oddly no McDonalds - hmmm, I'm not sure why they need so many rugs, yet no chicken mcnuggets. Anyway, I finally got a chance to go yesterday with Aida (we enable each other's yarn addiction...not healthy, but fun!). Now, it's not like I needed more yarn (Hello, Mia, MD Sheep and Wool was last week!), but these were calling to me:

so now they're mine!

And so are these two balls of Bernat Matrix on sale at The Rag Shop, which apparently is that area's equivalent to the Joann's stores we have here.
Mmmmm, sparkly...

Now I'm off to finish my paper, but we brought some sweets home from the trip:
so I'll have plenty of sugar to get me through it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Quick Update

This blanket from the Blue Sky Alpaca baby set. It's the perfect knitting temptation: soft thickish yarn in an easy to memorize pattern. It's about 3/4 done, and I think I'll have enough leftover for a wee hat or two. I knit the pattern as printed. I didn't run into the "important update" (i.e. the correction) posted on the website until about the 7th repeat. It's no big deal. I'm happy with how it looks as is.

I've made progress on a couple of other baby things too. However, I really should got back to work (read: I forgot to take pictures) so I'll save it for later.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sheepy sheepy sheep sheep

...and wool!

I knew Saturday was going to be a good day when I woke up to find my Secret Pal 8 assignment in my inbox. Hooray! Just in time for Sheep and Wool! Mom, Dee and I went early, and good thing too, since I was on a mission to fill up my new ginormous felted bag.

I made it with 6 skeins (sheesh, it took forever!) of Cascade 220, and a teensy bit of leftover Bernat Matrix ladder yarn. It was a whopping 46"x29" pre-felting. I was a little nervous that it wouldn't shrink enough and I'd end up with a ridiculously oversized felted sack. But it turned out well enough in the end to take it outdoor yarn shopping!

It was a beautiful day: warm sunshine, cool breeze, a great crowd and lots of farm sights, sounds and smells :). We met lots of critters, ate some naughty food (I managed to veer away from the fried twinkies):

and oh yeah, I bought some yarn! Here's the loot:

1. Metal Handloom - it came with loops for potholders:
Interesting, but I've got other ideas, like maybe a little scrap-yarn-busting.

2. 1 skein wool/mohair blend from YOUTH Program. I like the colorway and the cause, too.

3. handknit fingerless gloves from YOUTH. They fit my smallish hands nicely and were a good deal at $15. Now, I just have to wait for winter, or maybe I could hang out in the veggie freezer at Costco.

4. 2 skeins worsted weight wool from Catoctin Creek Farm (no colorway names)

5. 338 yds of brushed mohair in color "Plums" from Kid Hollow Farms. I bought brushed mohair from them last year. It's really lovely stuff.

6. 57 yds of feathery (yes, real feathers!) novelty yarn from the Cloverhill Yarn Shop.

The other two purchases are destined to be gifted (look out, SP8 spoilee!) so they are under wraps.

On the way home, a bit of nostalgia (with more extra-fatty calories):
I didn't know there were any High's Dairy stores left in Maryland. There used to be a bunch around Hyattsville, where we lived for a while, but they faded away and disappeared. This one was attached to a Citgo and was kinda 7-Eleven like, but still, they had hand-dipped ice cream. Yummy!

That's all I can think of for now. I've still got a bit of a yarn hangover. I swear, I don't even remember going to bed last night. But I woke up surrounded by yarn, so all is well.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

For my dear SP8:

My questionnaire is here. I'm so excited for the summer exchange to start!