Saturday, March 25, 2006


It's time again for Random Randomness, brought to you by the letter F. First up in our Random Randomness today--music! Yup, I've recently discovered two new tunes that just thrill the socks off me. Heh. Anyway, y'all have no doubt heard of these artists already, as I am almost always hopelessly behind the times, but whatever. The first new amusement is a really interesting fella called Matisyahu, a Hasidic Jew who does reggae. Seriously. It's actually really darn good, too, even though I'm not exactly a huge reggae fan. The Jamaican accent is a little questionable--sometimes it sounds like maybe he spent too much time on his Grandma's farm in Minnesota as a kid--eh? Yah. The music is incredibly well done, though, and the lyrics (at least what I can process of them...the brain doesn't work as fast as it used to) are really interesting & well written. Honestly, King Without A Crown is the only tune I've actually heard yet, but between that one & the reviews, I think I need to own this disc. I'm telling you, this kid is good.

The other awesome new music in my little world is KT Tunstall, a chick from Edinburgh who has only fairly recently come to light here in the states. At least to my limited knowledge, anyway. Her single Black Horse And A Cherry Tree is really bluesy & strong, and makes me crank up the radio in the car & sing really loudly. Actually, I'm even more thrilled about this disc since my beloved husband surprised me with it the other day. Score some major brownie points for the sweetie there. There's really only a couple songs on the disc that aren't just awesome, and dang, but I was needing some good strong female vocals lately! So yay on that one.

Next on this edition of RR, your latest installment of the ABCalong...

F is for Finished!! (Finally!)

My Very First Sock(s) is finally finished! They are knit in KnitPicks Parade, which is apparently on its way out the proverbial door, so if you wants some, best gets some now. I used an evil Lion Brand top down pattern, and it'll be the LAST time I use that one. I did, however, get some fabulous help from Entrelac and Socks 101, without which I very well may have gone completely insane. No, the stripes aren't lined up properly, but it's my first pair, so I'm not that concerned yet. They're close enough to make me happy, and I like that folks refer to this kind of pair as "fraternal". Heh.

Now that the socks are finally off the size 3 dpns, I'm free to cast on my second fingerless mitt in the round, except I've already got the first fingerless mitt on size 3 straights, and I don't like working from both ends of a ball. Sigh. I really hope that this won't give me Second Mitt Syndrome.

Finally on the RR show, my most recent stash acquisition...lace! I've been wanting to try my hand at knitted lace for a while now, so I snagged the Elizabeth I pattern from KnitPicks (which then mysteriously disappeared off the site shortly thereafter), and a few skeins of laceweight as well. From top to bottom, they are Gossamer in Leprechaun, Shadow in Sunset, Alpaca Cloud in Moss, and Shimmer in Morning Mist. The Shimmer especially feels incredible...suuuuper soft & silky. I love the Alpaca Cloud as well, though I've heard that some folks have frustrations with it due to how thin it is. I have no idea which one I'll start first, or when, but I'm excited anyway.

I'm still working on the aforementioned fingerless mitts, obviously, and also the Bigass Giant Chunky Sweater. The Bigass Giant Chunky Sweater is amazing...very soft, very warm, and very huge. I'm using Burly Spun, and a pattern that I picked up from a lys (but can't remember the name of). It comes in these huge fluffy hanks, and winding it into a ball was tricky, to say the least. The ball was simply too big for my standard ball winder, and I had to move the little metal doodad around just to be able to finish winding it up. That first pic is seriously the post-winding yarnycake, and that's even after I'd already knitted the collar section. The cat isn't far away, the yarnycake is actually sitting right on top of her, and she's no kitten. I mean, even makes my hands look small! It's not as pink as it looks, though, it's really a gorgeous rust color, and I'm really excited about it. Except that it will almost certainly be done just in time for me to turn on the air conditioner.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Playing catch-up, always

So, here we are again, behind on the ABCalong doodad. You can't see me rolling my eyes, but trust me, they're a-rollin. Am I the only one who has crazy fantasies about being ahead of everything for a change? Anyway, without further griping and/or whining, here it is...

E is for Educational Excess

So I went to a two day homeschool conference last weekend, a veritable bonanza of educational information. By the end of the second day, my brain had melted & leaked out my ear. There was just SO MUCH INFORMATION. Quite overwhelming, let me tell you. These photos are only a small fraction of the material I wound up taking home, and they don't include the books & things I bought, either (did you know there's an Elementary Algebra for seven year olds? Me neither, but The Boy is starting on it next week). Don't worry, I'm not overloading my kid by any stretch. He's extremely eager, and loves to "do school", especially math. As for me, I wasn't so hot in math, and I really don't look forward to higher studies in that field. As a result, I'm really hoping that I won't wind up moving too far away from my parents, so that I can lean on my dad to help when the time comes (he's a professional geek, and knows way more than I about such things).

Being the good little knittergeek I am, I of course brought my sock to the conference to work on in between seminars. The organizers wisely had a "knitting room" set aside during the lunch periods, so I spent a good portion of time in there, talking with other parents & slowly working on my stripey little sockie. It really was a nice bit of downtime in the middle of a really intellectual day, and I got to hear about some new (to me, anyway) yarn stores in the burbs. One woman sat down next to me, squealed over my sock, and pulled up her pant leg to show that she was, in fact, wearing the exact same sock that I was making. How cool is that?! She turned out to be an incredibly interesting person, too, so that's a bonus as well.

The sock in question is made from KnitPicks' Parade sock yarn, in the Blues colorway. I'm using a Lion Brand pattern, but I won't link to it, because it's irritating & wrong in places & I wouldn't recommend it, and besides, it makes me snarky, so there. There are a million other good sock patterns available out there anyway, if you're looking for one. Anyhow, I'm about 75% done with both socks. Yep, both socks--I'm not a stupid girl, generally speaking, and after getting halfway through the ribbing on the first cuff, I decided to pop for an extra set of size 3 dpns, because if I don't work both socks at the same time, I'll *never* get to the second one. I'd have a drawer full of dozens of single socks, and a raging case of Second Sock Syndrome. I just finished the gussett decreases on the second one last night, and am working through the endless stockinette of the arch of the foot now. I hope to get to the toe shaping by tonight on at least one of them--partly because I'm really looking forward to finishing my Very First Sock and wearing the darn thing, and partly because I really want my dpns so that I can start the fingerless mitts. Yeah, I know they're supposed to be worked on straights, but seaming sucks, so I'm gonna do 'em in the round. I hope, anyway. I've got a skein of KP Redwood & a skein of KP Fly Fishing for them, so I can have two different pairs of mitts. Have I mentioned lately how much I love KnitPicks?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

It's been a while, eh?

Good heavens, where to begin? It's been nearly a week since I've been here, and plenty has happened. Most notably, my eldest son turned 7 on Friday. Not to sound like a pathetic, slobbering wreck of a mother, but omg, my baby is SEVEN!!! I look at the pictures of him from even just a couple years ago, and he has changed so much. All the baby fat is gone from his face & hands, and he's very tall & slender now (VERY tall...his head comes up to the middle of my chest). I'd post pictures, because I am intensely proud of my boy, and he's incredibly cute with his little turned up nose & huge dark eyes & freckles over his cheeks, but I'm just not comfortable with my kids on the internet like that. Y'all will just have to believe boys are cuties. Heh. It's become a tradition every year to take the boys into the city to a museum for his birthday, and this year we went to the Museum of Science & Industry. It was the first time there for the kids, and the first time for dh since he was a kid himself, and we had a blast. All three of them (the two boys & dh, who is really just an overgrown kid himself) went nuts over the giant model train setup. As for me, I just wanted to stuff the 1936 Cadillac under my coat & sneak out the back door. It was a convertible, and one of only six left in the world. It was really weird to see how long it was, and how far the front wheels are from the back, but it was gorgeous just the same.

After we finished at the museum, we went to the Lego store downtown, and Loopy Yarns (where the boys all sat in the car & waited for me. Go figure.). The yarn store, to be honest, wasn't that exciting. Granted, I'm fairly spoiled by my local yarn store and the semi-local Wool & Co., but still... They had some nice yarns, like Lorna's Laces, and a cashmere sock yarn that really wanted to go home with me (but for $43 a skein, it stayed right where it was), but it was largely novelty yarns, and I'm just not a big fan. Meh. Still, it was fun to poke around.

Speaking of yarn shops, I managed a GREAT score at another semi-local yarn store that sadly went out of business this week. Their entire shop went for 40% off the day I was there, and I snagged a huge load of Cascade 220 for about $4.35 a skein. I also got enough Plymouth Encore for two more boy sweaters, a couple balls of Cascade Fixation, and about four balls of Wendy/Peter Pan for an undisclosed item in the future. On top of that, I picked up several new circular needles (and OH, how I wish I'd had my list of what I needed with me!! I would have gotten several more, if I'd only known which ones to get), a gorgeous Brittany crochet hook, and three new knitting books. One is a knitting journal by Melanie Falick that I've been coveting for ages--it's got a handy little chart to list all your needles, so you won't have to miss out on deals when you're in yarn stores with sales anymore. The others are Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush, and Knit Christmas Stockings, by I don't know who offhand (it's shaped like a stocking, if that helps any). I was SO THRILLED with my haul! The only downside is the financial nausea afterwards. I mean, honestly, when am I ever going to see gorgeous Cascade 220 for four bucks a skein?! But on the other hand, we really have very little money to spare right now, and I feel like a heel for spending it all on me. While I was out that day, I also stopped at The Fold, a really cool little yarn shop in Marengo. Well, actually, it's just outside of Marengo, on a little bitty farm in the hills. It's got a really sweet, homey feel to it (it helps that it's actually in the lady's house), and it's just fabulous!!! I mean, hot damn! There is SO MUCH in this little shop...I really wish that I'd had more time to browse. She's got TONS of spinning supplies--beautiful spinning wheels & drop spindles, huge bags of roving stacked to the ceiling, and yarn out the wazoo. I don't spin yet, so I don't know much about it, but oooooh, those bags of beautifully colored roving...*drooool*. They were soooo soft, I just wanted to crawl inside them and take a nap. There were sooo many different yarns, too...lots of really high quality fibers, incredible colors, some I didn't recognize but wanted anyway. I only bought one skein there, though--a skein of Socks That Rock in Sapphire, and a pair of short size 2 dpns. Socks That Rock is so beautifully colored! I was actually pretty glad that she was short on stock that day, because I could really get addicted to the jewel-like colorways. They aren't cheap, though I hear that you get what you pay for with this yarn, so we'll see how it knits up. Oh, and the big bonus with this yarn? It's superwash merino. Mmmmm... Toni Neill, the owner, was incredibly nice and friendly, as was her enormous German Sheperd, Eric. Eric was just the biggest sweetheart, all friendly tail wagging & soft brown eyes. I've got a major weakness for GSDs, so that helps too, but he really is a cool dog. And honestly, I just adore small shops with pets in them. I've always thought a bookstore with resident cats is about the most inviting thing ever, so a yarn shop with a dog is pretty darn cool too. And, amazingly, I didn't see ANY dog hair on any of the merchandise, not that it would bother me anyway. My cat sheds on it as soon as I get it home, so it really makes no difference to me, but it was pretty darn impressive.

D is for DONE!!

And now we get to the yarn photo section of the day, folks: I've finished two major (for me, anyways) projects this week! Yay! First up is the Ben & Jerry's Cozy for my mom. I found this pattern in Knit Wit, by Amy Singer. It's made with Cascade Fixation, which is 98.3% cotton and 1.7% elastic. The elastic makes it really weird to work with...I hear it's great for socks, and I suppose it would be, but it turned out just slightly loose on my B&J carton. I'm looking forward to making one for me next, now that I know more about how Fixation behaves, and how to work with it to make it do what you want. At any rate, it's pretty cute, in a stupid sort of way. Blogger's being snotty about posting pictures right now, though, so I'll have to come back in a bit to try again.

Second finished object is that weird felted purse for my mom (notice a trend here yet?). Now, I've never made a purse before, and this was based on a pattern but then largely altered, so keep that in mind. The strap is super wide, but that's what she asked for. I even put a pocket in the inside, which was REALLY tricky to sew. Um, I'm not a very good seamstress, either... But anyway, it's done, and I'm hoping she'll like it.

I'm really glad to be done with these two. Next up is my very first sock! I cast on last night, and I've got about an inch of the cuff ribbing done so far. Yay!

My apologies for the boring, unimaginative nature of today's D. It's just a brainless kind of day here today...snowing & cold & sorta grey. Bleh.

OH, and I nearly forgot to add--yay Olympics! Yay Team Dekalb! Yay goofy gold medal! Heehee...